Todd Pletcher’s stay at Keeneland, for all intents and purposes, is over, and he went out with a bang, with three of his
These three talented horses have very little in common. They look different, they act different, and they work different. But they all get the job done in their own way. And all were went about their business in different manners this morning.
Watching the Pletcher operation in the morning is like watching a well-oiled machine at work. Pletcher’s detailed and precise instructions to his exercise riders leave little room for miscommunication.
This morning, the “exercise rider” in the spotlight, or the hot seat, depending on how you look at it, was Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero, who also is John Velazquez’ agent in New York.
Pletcher told Cordero to get his opening quarter in :12 and change and do a little something with him in the last sixteenth. Any Given Saturday broke off at the five-furlong, cutting out fractions of :12 1/5, :24 1/5, and :36 4/5. He was smooth as silk in the stretch and just seemed to glide over the ground. He has a tendency to run with his head a little high, but he was able to drop it a bit in the stretch and was in rhythm all the way to the wire, with little encouragement from Cordero. He came home his last eighth in :12 2/5 to complete the five panels in 1:01 1/5.
After his :58 4/5 drill in company last week, this work was all he needed to have him fit and sharp for the Derby.
Next came little Circular Quay, who again worked in company with Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) favorite Rags to Riches. Pletcher and Cordero both said the son of Thunder Gulch has gotten a bit more aggressive since last year, and these works, eyeballing Rags to Riches, are keeping him fine-tuned and geared up for the Derby during his eight-week layoff.
Pletcher again had Circular Quay and Cordero on the outside. Last week when they worked in company, Circular Quay had Rags to Riches pinned down close to the rail, and actually ducked in a little on her down the stretch. This time, Pletcher wanted to give her a little more breathing room. As in the past, Circular Quay laid about six lengths behind the filly going to the pole, but was right up alongside her by the time they broke off.
They worked as a team, head and head, around the turn through a quarter in :24 3/5 and three-eighths in :36 3/5. Cordero still had Rags to Riches pinned on the rail, but wasn’t quite as tight as last time. While she jumped on to her left lead in midstretch, Circular Quay was striding out beautifully on his right lead, lowering his head and reaching out with authority. They came home their last eighth in :12 1/5, stopping the clock at 1:00 1/5, with Circular Quay sticking his nose in front at the wire.
How these works translate to winning the
Finally, it was Scat Daddy’s Turn, and it was evident before he even left the barn that his blood was up, as he kicked back hard with both legs several times. Pletcher told Cordero to do pretty much the same thing he did with Any Given Saturday. But that was going to be easier said than done. Cordero gave him a long run to the pole, and the son of
What was impressive about the work was that Scat Daddy did not look to be going anywhere near that fast. He has a long, sweeping stride, which makes his speed very deceiving, because he’s motoring without anyone realizing it. Needless to say, it was a big surprise looking at the stopwatch and seeing the final time.
So, Pletcher’s works are done, and all that’s left is the van ride to Churchill on Tuesday, and some solid gallops next week to keep the edge.
Pletcher may have been finished at Keeneland, but he still had one more worker at Churchill Downs, and that was Sam P., who worked five furlongs in company in 1:00 1/5. It took him a little while in the stretch to get into a good rhythm, but once he did, he leveled off nicely in the final sixteenth and seemed to be gaining momentum as he hit the wire. It takes a while for the son of Cat Thief to get his act together, but once he does, remember, he’ll run all day.
The final worker of the day in Kentucky was Teuflesberg, who looked good drilling five furlongs in 1:00 4/5, with trainer Jamie Sanders sitting still on him and letting him pick it up on his own. The son of
In other works, Nobiz Like Shobiz breezed five furlongs in his usual :59 4/5 at Belmont, while in California, Tiago drilled a sharp six furlongs in a bullet 1:11 4/5 and Stormello went five furlongs in 1:00 4/5.