Haskin's BC Report: Post Pletcher
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Is Todd Pletcher still smiling after the post position draw?

Now that the post positions have been drawn, strategy can be plotted, and trainers can either take advantage of their posts or try to make the best of them.

Todd Pletcher falls into the latter category, as four of his horses, including powerhouses Quality Road   and Life At Ten, drew less than ideal posts, meaning a degree of luck will have to come their way.

 

Quality Road and Life At Ten drew the rail in the Classic (gr. IT) and Ladies Classic, respectively, while Pluck and Allure d’Amour drew posts 13 and 14 in the Juvenile Turf (gr. II) and Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. II), respectively.

 

Ideally, Pletcher would like to see Quality Road tracking an honest pace from the outside to utilize his excellent tactical speed, but by drawing the rail, he is going to have to break sharply, somehow shake himself from the speedy Haynesfield  , breaking from post 3, and get a good position in behind him. If John Velazquez is unable to get him to the outside of Haynesfield, he will be in danger of getting put in a box by Etched, another horse with tactical speed who will be breaking from post 10, and possibly the Japanese invader Espoir City (post 11), who likes to race close to the lead. Both these horses will have to break sharply. Quality Road is a horse you want to see in control of a race and not have to rely on good fortune to get where he wants to be.

 

But as everyone is well aware, it is nearly impossible to know for sure how a race is going to develop, and Quality Road could wind up with a dream trip if things fall his way. Having a sharp, experienced money rider like Velazquez surely will help.

 

Lookin At Lucky  , who had a disastrous trip from the rail in this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), drew the outside post in the 12-horse field, which lost one starter when the connections of the quick-footed Morning Line   opted to switch to the Dirt Mile (gr. I) at the eleventh hour.

 

Although some may feel that is a bad post as well, there are many trainers who would kill to draw the 12-post in the Kentucky Derby. With the long run to the turn, Lookin At Lucky should have plenty of time and room to tuck in and get a good position in midpack, especially because the majority of the field is made of pace horses and closers, so there should be a nice spot waiting for him somewhere in between them.

 

Getting back to Pletcher, Life At Ten is in pretty much the same situation as Quality Road, She is a big, long-striding filly with good tactical speed, and the rail is not where you want to have her. Her stablemate, the speedy Malibu Prayer, is in post 3, so she essentially is playing the same role as Haynesfield, assuming she goes to the lead, while Unrivaled Belle and Havre de Grace, breaking from post 8 and 11, respectively, will play the roles of Etched and Espoir City. Both have the good tactical speed to pin in Life At Ten. Whether that will happen no one knows, of course. But, like the Classic, it does make for some intriguing strategy by the jockeys involved.

 

Other top who may have to overcome their posts are Tell a Kelly (post 12) in the Juvenile Fillies, Big Drama (post 1) in the Sprint (gr. I), Girolamo   (post 2) in the Sprint, the late-closing Chamberlain Bridge (post 1) in the Turf Sprint (gr. II), and California Flag (who will have to be used early from post 12) in the Turf Sprint.

 

Goldikova is not ideally placed, breaking from post 10 in the 11-horse BC Mile (gr. IT). She will have to be used early or take back to the back of the pack as she did in last year’s Mile. But only once in her career, in last year’s Prix de la Foret (Fr-I), did post position appear to affect her performance. She overcame the 11 post in last year’s Mile, so there is an excellent chance it won’t bother her this year. Sidney’s Candy, breaking just inside her in post 9, likely will bust to the lead and try to take the field as far as he can with his incredible flat-out speed.

 

In the Juvenile (gr. I), Uncle Mo   and his stablemate Stay Thirsty   got an early advantage over Boys At Tosconova   by drawing posts 7 and 6, respectively, which puts them outside their main rival, who drew post 2. So Boys At Tosconova, making his two-turn debut, as are Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty, likely will have to show his cards first, especially with the fast J P's Gusto  , right outside him in post 3. This is one race where Pletcher has to be delighted by the draw.

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