Trainer Todd Pletcher, pointing Sam P. toward the Santa Anita Derby.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, pointing Sam P. toward the Santa Anita Derby.

Skip Dickstein

Plans Change for Sam P., to Run in Santa Anita Derby

With the withdrawal of Ravel from the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) due to an injury, Todd Pletcher and co-owner Jack Wolf have decided to run Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) runner-up Sam P. at Santa Anita, instead of the Illinois Derby (gr. II), as originally planned.

Garrett Gomez, who rode the Cat Thief colt in the Robert Lewis, likely will be out of town that day, so Pletcher, who also has Hutcheson (gr. II) winner King of the Roxy pointing for the Santa Anita Derby, will have to find another rider.

Pletcher had been toying with the idea of running Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) winner Rags to Riches in the Santa Anita Derby. Owned by Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, Rags to Riches could run in the April 7 Ashland Stakes (gr. I) or go directly to the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).

Wolf said the decision was based on several reasons. “He’s already at Santa Anita and we know he likes the track,” he said. “We don’t know how he’ll take to Hawthorne, and if we ran there, he’d have to fly to Lexington and then take a six-hour van ride to Chicago.

“This way we’ll find out what we have. If he runs up the track, we’ll know he doesn’t belong in the Kentucky Derby anyway. So, all in all, we feel it’s a wise decision.”

Sam P., who is owned by the Wolfs’ Starlight Stable and Donald Lucarelli, has won two of his seven career starts. In addition to his second in the Lewis to Great Hunter, he was fourth in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) and defeated Chelokee by 2 1/4 lengths in a Churchill Downs allowance race last fall. He also finished second to stablemate Any Given Saturday in an allowance race at Keeneland.

In other Santa Anita Derby news, trainer and co-owner Bill Currin said Stormello is scheduled to work Saturday with Victor Espinoza up. Although he has not officially ruled out the Santa Anita Derby, Currin said he still is leaning toward running in the Florida Derby (gr. I) next Saturday, with the April 14 Arkansas Derby (gr. II) another option.