It wasn’t quite like a scene from Noah’s Ark, but four of trainer Todd Pletcher’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contenders arrived Tuesday afternoon two by two in separate vans to the backside at Churchill Downs.
In all, there were three Brook Ledge vans that made the one-hour trip from Keeneland in Lexington to be settled into Pletcher’s barn off Longfield Ave. The first van contained several of Pletcher’s fillies, including Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) favorite Rags to Riches. The second van included Derby prospects Scat Daddy and Any Given Saturday. The third van delivered Circular Quay and Cowtown Cat.
The van that contained Scat Daddy and Any Given Saturday pulled up to Barn 34 around 2:10 p.m. and also was carrying the 2-year-old Ready’s Image. Driver Brad Gotwals said the trip was routine as he drove out of Keeneland on US 60 to I-64 West toward Louisville.
The third van, driven by Gotwals’ son, William, pulled up at 2:35 p.m. and contained not only Circular Quay and Cowtown Cat, but older sprint star Half Ours.
All of the horses were led off the van by Pletcher’s assistant, Mike McCarthy, with Pletcher following behind each horse. The horses were walked a few times around the shedrow, then were taken out to have their traveling wraps removed and were given a quick rubdown.
The four Pletcher Derby runners join Sam P. in Barn 34 to make for a “Murderer’s Row” of Derby talent:
Any Given Saturday: Sam F. Davis winner, dropped a nose decision to Street Sense in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) and then ran third in the Wood Memorial (gr. I)
Circular Quay: Winner of the grade I Hopeful last year and impressive winner earlier this year of the Louisiana Derby (gr. II)
Cowtown Cat: Recent back-to-back winner of the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) and the Illinois Derby (gr. II) at Hawthorne
Sam P.: In his last two starts has run second to Great Hunter in the Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) and third behind Tiago and King of the Roxy in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I)
Scat Daddy: Last year’s Champagne (gr. I) winner was third in the Holy Bull (gr. III) in his 3-year-old debut, and has since rattled off back-to-back wins at Gulfstream in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and Florida Derby (gr. I)