With a 70% chance of rain for May 1, trainer Todd Pletcher said he is not concerned about an off-track for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Based on how well his four Derby entrants -- Devil May Care, Discreetly Mine , Mission Impazible , and Super Saver -- trained last weekend on a sloppy track at Churchill, Pletcher said he even believes an off-track would improve his chances of getting his first winner of the Kentucky Derby.
"It throws an X factor into it," Pletcher said of a potential off track for Derby Day. "The one thing we felt like from Saturday’s breezes is that all of our horses handled the wet track pretty well. Normally I would be sweating the weather forecast, but in light of the way they all trained it wouldn’t bother me if it rained.
"Part of me thinks it might be an edge for us, just because we did have to breeze them on a sloppy track and they all liked it. I thought the filly (Devil May Care) worked extremely well in the slop. It seemed like she did it effortlessly."
Devil May Care and Super Saver have one victory each on wet tracks, Discreetly Mine has one win on a track labeled good, and Mission Impazible has a second and a third on off-tracks.
Pletcher said one downside of a sloppy or muddy track with a 20-horse field like the Derby is that there is more "kick back" that can impact some horses.
The trainer said he will not do anything differently for his Derby horses’ equipment, including shoes, if it does rain on Derby Day. "They are going to be shod with Queen’s plates in front and quarter inch bends behind, whether the track is fast or sloppy," Pletcher said.
As far as the ideal running positions for his horses early on in the 1 ¼-mile Derby, Pletcher said he hopes Discreetly Mine is placed in the second tier, with Devil May Care in the third tier and Mission Impazible in the second or third tiers.
With none of his four Kentucky Derby horses expected to up front early in the race, Pletcher said he would prefer a half-mile timing of about 46 seconds for the front-runners. "I guess it depends on how intent Conveyance and Line of David are in having the lead," he said of the probable pacesetters. "Somebody has got to give in at some point.
Of the possibility of a wire-to-wire victory in the Derby, Pletcher said, "I’m not hoping for one."
With the workouts over and the Derby starting field now known, Pletcher said he was pleased with how things were going in his camp. Devil May Care will break from the 11 post position at 10-1 morning line odds, Super Saver is listed at 15-1 in the morning line from post 4, Mission Impazible is a 20-1 shot in post 14, and Discreetly Mine, 30-1 in the morning line, is in post 15.
"I think all four horses are doing really, really well coming into the race," said Pletcher, who earlier in the week looked as if he might have six Derby starters. That all changed after an injury was detected in Eskendereya, the early Derby favorite, and the trainer opted not to enter Interactif, who will be pointed toward turf races.
"I do feel like Eskendereya was the best horse we had brought to this point," said Pletcher, who has been represented by 24 Derby starters. "Obviously that is a big loss for us but we still have some legitimate chances."