Pletcher has two horses in Derby
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill are the only trainers in this year’s Kentucky Derby with previous victories in the race.
Baffert got his fourth Derby last year with American Pharoah, who went on to sweep the Triple Crown. A win by Mor Spirit on Saturday would move Baffert within one of the record held by Ben Jones.
O’Neill has the favorite this time in the undefeated Nyquist. O’Neill is 1 for 4 in the Derby, winning with I’ll Have Another in 2012.
It’s been leaner for Pletcher — not from a lack of trying.
Pletcher captured the 2010 Derby with Super Saver, his lone winner from 43 runners. That total ranks second only to D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time Derby winner who has saddled 48 Derby horses.
Pletcher, who has run as many as five in one Derby, tries again with a pair of 15-1 shots: Outwork and Destin.
“I think we have two really nice horses who are doing really well,” Pletcher said. “I think both horses are going to run their races. It would be bold to say they were going to win, but I think both are coming up to it well enough to run their best race.”
Neither horse has generated much pre-Derby excitement. Both have excellent records and will be ridden by top jockeys. Hall of Famer John Velazquez has the mount on Outwork. Javier Castellano, the leading money winner in the nation, rides Destin.
Both won stakes in their final preps.
Outwork captured the Wood Memorial last month, improving his record to 3 for 4. The lone defeat was a second-place finish to stablemate Destin in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12.
Destin has not run since, an unusually long gap of almost two months.
“We felt this gives him the best chance to win the Kentucky Derby,” Pletcher said. “Putting another race in between that and the Derby might not allow him to make another move forward to continue on the path he was on. Everybody was comfortable with leaving out a significant race in between. You couldn’t do it with a lot of horses.”
Pletcher, 48, has won the Eclipse Award as leading trainer seven times, taking home the honor most recently in 2014.
Pletcher isn’t the only trainer with multiple horses in this Derby. Chad Brown sends out the duo of My Man Sam and Shagaf, both at 20-1. Steve Asmussen saddles a pair of 10-1 shots: Creator and Gun Runner.