Todd Pletcher

Unbeaten Champion Essential Quality Favored for Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, KY - Unbeaten champion Essential Quality (Tapit) was assigned post 14 in a full field of 20 assembled for Saturday's GI Kentucky Derby at Tuesday's post position draw held at Churchill Downs. The Godolphin homebred and 'TDN Rising Star,' tabbed as the 2-1 favorite on Mike Battaglia's morning line, made it a perfect five-for-five for trainer Brad Cox with a hard-fought, neck decision over Highly Motivated (Into Mischief) in the GII Blue Grass S. at Keeneland Apr. 3. Luis Saez, disqualified from first aboard Maximum Security in 2019, has...

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'Rising Star' Malathaat Favored For Oaks 147

'TDN Rising Star' Malathaat (Curlin), undefeated in four career starts and winner of her seasonal debut in the GI Central Bank Ashland S. at Keeneland Apr. 3, was made the 5-2 favorite from gate 10 on Mike Battaglia's morning line for Friday's 147th running of the GI Longines Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. One of three in the race for her outstanding sire, Malathaat--a daughter of 2013 Oaks fourth Dreaming of Julia (A.P. Indy)--defeated Millefeuille (Curlin, gate 14) in the GII Demoiselle S. last December and was very game in...

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Caddo River Out of Derby

Shortleaf Stable's 'TDN Rising Star' Caddo River (Hard Spun) will not make the line-up for Saturday's GI Kentucky Derby after spiking a fever over the weekend. "We noticed he was off his feed and took his temperature yesterday afternoon. It was slightly elevated," trainer Brad Cox said. "It's just really bad timing being this close to the Derby. We drew blood on him [Sunday] morning and his white cell counts were a little high. We just can't run him on Saturday with being a little off his game." The defection...

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Derby, Oaks Workers Out in Full Force Friday

GI Kentucky Derby and GI Kentucky Oaks workers were out in full force Friday morning at Churchill Downs. Breezers included: The Todd Pletcher-trained quartet of Known Agenda (Curlin) and Sainthood (Mshawish), who were clocked in 1:01.00 (17/50) together under the Twin Spires; Dynamic One (Union Rags) who covered a half in :47.80 (1/108) alongside GSP Prime Factor (Quality Road); and GII Wood Memorial S. upsetter Bourbonic (Bernardini), who went in :49.60 (71/108). "Known Agenda is not the most aggressive work horse," Pletcher noted. "He is not an Always Dreaming (the...

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The TDN Derby Top 20 for April 20

We've entered that fun phase of microscopic scrutiny that accompanies the GI Kentucky Derby waiting game. The rankings below are independent from the "Road to the Derby" points leaderboard that Churchill Downs will use to determine starting berths; that list can be accessed here. 1) ESSENTIAL QUALITY (c, Tapit--Delightful Quality, by Elusive Quality) O/B-Godolphin (KY). T-Brad Cox. Lifetime Record: Ch. 2yo Colt & MGISW, 5-5-0-0, $2,265,144. Last Start: 1st GII Toyota Blue Grass S., KEE, Apr. 3 Accomplishments: 'TDN Rising Star', 1st GI TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile, KEE, Nov. 6,...

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Pletcher Works Derby Quartet at Churchill

On a busy Friday morning at Churchill Downs, GI Kentucky Derby contenders Bourbonic (Bernardini) (five furlongs, 1:01.60), Dynamic One (Union Rags) (five furlongs, 1:01), Helium (Ironicus) (five furlongs, 1:01.80), Known Agenda (Curlin) (five furlongs, 1:00.40) and Sainthood (Mshawish) (five furlongs, 1:00.40) all recorded published workouts in preparation for the 147th running of the "Run for the Roses" Saturday, May 1. All five horses worked at 7:30 a.m. and D J Stable's unbeaten GII Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner Helium was the first of the quintet to work. "The most...

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Spice is Nice Returns a Winner at Keeneland

6th-Keeneland, $82,488, Alw (NW2$X)/Opt. Clm ($62,500), 4-9, 4yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16m, 1:43.01, ft, 2 1/4 lengths. SPICE IS NICE (f, 4, Curlin--Dame Dorothy {GISW, $749,740}, by Bernardini) made her return to the races a winning one with an optional claimer score at Keeneland Friday. Hammered down to 1-2 favoritism for this return after eight months on the bench, the $1.05-million KEESEP buy raced two-wide in a joint third through opening splits of :24.15 and :48.63. Scrubbed on by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, the chestnut swept up to confront the...

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Todd Pletcher Talks Derby Contenders On Writers' Room

At one point this spring, it was conceivable that soon-to-be Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher would be faced with the unusual situation of not having a GI Kentucky Derby starter. Things change quickly in racing though, as now the seven-time Eclipse Award winner is likely to have four horses in the gate in Louisville and Wednesday morning, he joined the TDN Writers' Room presented by Keeneland to talk about his sudden Derby quartet. Calling in via Zoom as the Green Group Guest of the Week, Pletcher also talked about...

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Todd Pletcher Joins the TDN Writers' Room

Trainer Todd Pletcher joins this week's TDN Writers' Room after pulling the upset in this past weekend's GII Wood Memorial with Bourbonic.

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Bernardini Longshot Caps Pletcher Exacta in Wood Memorial

Calumet Farm homebred Bourbonic (Bernardini) was well deserving of his 70-1 odds on paper, but came flying late to nail stablemate Dynamic One (Union Rags) on the line in Aqueduct's GII Wood Memorial S. Away well from post three, Bourbonic was unhurried early, trailing the field as fellow 70-1 shot and familiar foe Market Maven (Super Ninety Nine) dictated terms, setting early fractions of :24.88 and :50.18 with Weyburn (Pioneer of the Nile) breathing down his neck and Candy Man Rocket (Candy Ride {Arg}) close behind. Weyburn drew even with...

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Curlin's 'Rising Star' Malathaat Up In the Nick of Time in the Ashland

With principal Sheikh Hamdan having passed away just 10 days earlier, unbeaten 'TDN Rising Star' Malathaat (Curlin) provided the Shadwell team with a major pick-me-up as she ran down Pass the Champagne (Flatter) in Keeneland's GI Central Bank Ashland S. Saturday under red-hot Joel Rosario. "I can't put it into words," said an emotional Rick Nichols--Vice President and General Manager of Shadwell--after the race. "I am sure [Sheikh Hamdan] is up there with a big smile on his face looking down on us. We really needed this." Already with 10...

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'Rising Star' Makes the Grade in Appalachian

Just a nose short of getting her first graded win in the Mar. 6 GIII Florida Oaks, Jouster offered no anxious moments this time, rolling home a comfortable winner in Saturday's GII Appalachian S. at Keeneland. Signaling her readiness with a sharp four-furlong move in :48.46 at Palm Beach Downs Mar. 27, the 8-5 favorite went straight to the front as her partner, Luis Saez, lulled the field to sleep through initial splits of :24.82 and :49.87. With plenty in reserve kicking for home, the Starlight Racing runner built a...

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