Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s Mission Impazible gave Pletcher yet another major Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender March 27 when the son of Unbridled's Song overtook a pair of horses in deep stretch to win the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) (VIDEO) by three-quarters of a length at Fair Grounds Races & Slots.
Fourth in the one-mile Southwest Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 20 at Oaklawn Park and runner-up in his 3-year-old debut in allowance company Jan. 9 at Gulfstream Park, Mission Impazible broke through in the nine-furlong Louisiana Derby when running a route of ground for the first time under Rajiv Maragh. It was the fourth win on the Fair Grounds card for Pletcher, who has a slew of major Kentucky Derby contenders in his stable.
Mission Impazible picked up $450,000 for the win and seems well on his way to Churchill Downs for the May 1 classic.
Mission Impazible received the perfect trip under Maragh, who was riding the gray/roan colt for the first time. Breaking sharply from post 2, he was never far behind pacesetter A Little Warm while saving ground along the rail. A Little Warm took the full field of 13 through early splits of :23.55 and :47.89 with Pletcher’s other starter, 7-2 favorite Discreetly Mine, racing in second. Also close up were Backtrack, The Program, Wow Wow Wow, and Drosselmeyer, who tucked into a nice position after breaking from post 13.
A Little Warm was still going well with David Cohen aboard through three-quarters in 1:12.07 and one mile in 1:37.52. As they hit the top of the stretch A Little Warm and Discreetly Mine were heads apart, but Mission Impazible was right on their heels from a three-wide path and continued to bare down on the leaders. Meanwhile, Drosselmeyer was fighting through gamely on the rail. Mission Impazible finally overtook the two leaders in the final yards while hitting the wire in 1:50.32 on a fast main track.
A Little Warm was a game second in his first try going two turns, a neck better than Drosselmeyer, who rallied past Discreetly Mine by another neck for third under Kent Desormeaux.
"That was kind of the way we had talked about it,'' Pletcher said. `"We wanted to secure a little bit of position from the inside and hopefully come away stalking the leaders. Then he was able to find a little more down the lane."
Mission Impazible, bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm, was making only his fifth start. As a juvenile, he broke his maiden at Keeneland going 4 1/2 furlongs in his debut, then was third in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill in April before being shut down for eight months.
Mission Impazible, who is out of the Hold Your Peace mare La Paz, has now earned $512,754. He was a $200,000 Keeneland September 2008 yearling sale purchase.
"He's got to be ranked among the top 3-year-olds now with a win like this," Maragh said. "There was a lot left in the tank; there definitely was. He didn't seem worn out after the race.'"
The winner paid $16.20, $7.20, and $5. The exacta (2-5) returned $123.60 and the trifecta (2-5-13) was $745.40.