Todd Pletcher

Todd Pletcher

Anne M. Eberhardt

Pletcher Unfazed by 2-Year-Old Derby Jinx

His Wood Memorial favorite Verrazano didn't debut until Jan. 1.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who will saddle heavy favorite Verrazano  in the April 6 Wood Memorial (gr. I), gently debunked a "Derby Jinx" that could follow his currently undefeated colt to Churchill Downsthat no horse that did not race at 2 has won the Derby since Apollo in 1882.

Verrazano, who is the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), made his first start on his third birthday: Jan. 1, 2013.

"If they had a race on New Year's Eve he would have won that," said Pletcher. "That's totally out of our control. I think one thing we've seen over the last 10 years is all the Derby jinxes and Derby trends have been blown up, starting with Barbaro."

In 2006, Barbaro became the first colt since 1956 to win the Derby off a five-week break.

In the ensuing years, several other jinxes fell by the wayside as well: In 2007, Street Sense  broke two when he became the first Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner and the first juvenile champion since Spectacular Bid in 1979 to win the Run for the Roses.

In 2008, Big Brown  became the first horse to win the Derby from post position 20, and in 2009 Mine That Bird joined Funny Cide (2003) as one of two geldings to win since 1929.

The 2011 renewal saw Animal Kingdom , making his first start on dirt, become the first horse since Exterminator in 1918 to win with only four previous starts. Finally, last year, I'll Have Another  became the first to win from post position 19.

Pletcher himself had his 0-for-24 streak in the Derby snapped by Super Saver  in 2010, 

"All those old adages about you can't win the Derby if you did this, or if your last prep was then, it's been well-proven, especially recently, that those are no longer true," said Pletcher.