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Mathea Kelley

Pletcher Not Pointing Winning Cause to Derby

Trainer believes three races in less than four weeks would be too much.

While trainer Todd Pletcher was pleased with the breeze turned in by Winning Cause April 29 at Churchill Downs, he will not enter the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III) winner in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

Pletcher said after meeting with owner Gil Moutray of Alto Racing, the decision was made to skip the Derby. Pletcher noted the Giant's Causeway  colt would have been making his third start since April 6 if he'd gone in the Derby May 4 at Churchill.

"Actually I thought the horse worked very well. He seems to have come out of the Lexington in great shape," Pletcher said after Winning Cause breezed four furlongs in 48 1/5. "But after speaking to one of the principal owners, he's not starting in the Kentucky Derby.

"We're not sure where he's going, but everything will be under consideration, the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II), the Preakness (Stakes, gr. I), or possibly the Marine Stakes at Woodbine (May 26) because it's on synthetic."

With the defection, and Bob Baffert's Monday decision not to enter Govenor Charlie or Code West, Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) fourth-place finisher Tiz a Minister became next in line at 19th on the points list. But Churchill officials said the Ministers Wild Cat  colt will not make the trip from Southern California. Tiz a Minister finished third in the Snow Chief Stakes for California-breds April 27 at Betfair Hollywood Park.

No. 20 on the list is Charles Fipke's Golden Soul, who trainer Dallas Stewart has been exercising at Churchill Downs during the time allotted for Derby and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) horses. Fipke also will have Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner Java's War  entered in the field. Stewart plans to enter the Perfect Soul  colt who finished fourth in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II).

"I'm so happy for the horse to get the opportunity," Stewart said. "I'm happy for Mr. Fipke. He's going to have two horses in there. I really think (Golden Soul) is going to represent us well."

Meanwhile, Pletcher said Derby Trial Stakes (gr. III) winner Forty Tales will keep to sprinting; the Tale of the Cat  colt will be pointed to the Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park. Pletcher said he will wait to see how his five Derby horses do in the 1 1/4-mile race before making a final decision on Derby Trial runner-up Capo Bastone , who could go in the Preakness.

Pletcher noted that for all of the discussion of Churchill's new points system used to determine the Derby field, it may not come into play at all because a field smaller than 20 horses seems like a possibility.

"We spent a lot of hours talking about the points system and it might come down that it doesn't matter," Pletcher said.

Pletcher said Edgar Prado is likely to ride Charming Kitten in the Derby although a final decision has not been made.