It comes as no surprise that trainer Todd Pletcher, a multiple record setter in 2006, will collect a third well-deserved Eclipse Award for his efforts.
First breaking his own single-season North American earnings record, he then established new records for most graded stakes wins and most stakes wins in one season, topping his former boss, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who had previously set the mark of 92 stakes wins and 53 graded stakes wins.
In 2006, Pletcher captured 100 stakes with 57 different runners, and his earnings of $26,820,243 was up from the $20,867,842 he earned in 2005, when he became the first North American-based trainer to surpass $20 million.
Of his stakes wins, 57 were graded, and of that number 17 were in grade I events.
Two of the major horses that helped boost Pletcher’s success in 2006 were three-time grade I winner English Channel and Fleet Indian, the champion 5-year-old mare who was undefeated for the year until being injured in the Breeders’ Cup.
In addition to his older star performers, Pletcher also found success with his versatile filly Wait a While, who captured graded stakes on both turf and dirt at 3. Another sensational member of Pletcher’s barn is Bluegrass Cat, who as a 3-year-old won the Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) and finished second in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, Belmont Stakes, and Travers Stakes, all grade I.
Pletcher named other 2006 standout victors as Circular Quay, winner of the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), and Scat Daddy, who scored in the grade I Champagne Stakes and gave Pletcher his 93rd stakes win to move him one past Lukas’ previous record. The Hopeful was a race Pletcher had not previously won.
The same day Pletcher experienced a major setback with his 0-17 Breeders’ Cup World Championships record at Churchill Downs Nov. 4, which marked the most horses ever entered by one trainer, he still managed to set a milestone for most graded stakes wins in one season when Safari Queen took the Long Island Handicap (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct.
Pletcher closed out 2006 with 294 winners from 1,168 starters, 238 seconds, and 140 thirds. His runners won 25% of the time, while posting a 58% on-the-board record.
(Article appears in the January 27, 2007 issue of The Blood-Horse)