Ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher, Any Given Saturday bid three wide on the far turn in the 1 1/16-mile test. After engaging pacesetter All I Can Get in the stretch, Velazquez gave the son of Distorted Humor several taps in the shoulder before the dark bay colt displayed his superiority, pulling away in the final eighth to win in a solid 1:44 1/5.
“I didn’t know we had the race won until he was under the wire,” said Velazquez.
Now a winner of three of four lifetime starts with earnings of $164,213, Any Given Saturday gives Pletcher yet another Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender to go along with prospects that include Circular Quay, Ravel and Scat Daddy. Pletcher leads all trainers with 32 horses nominated to the Triple Crown races.
Any Given Saturday returned $2.40, $2.20 and $2.10. Local hope All I Can Get finished second by 3 1/2 lengths under Luis Gonzalez and paid $8.20 and $2.10. James Wilfred, Daniel Centeno aboard, was third and returned $2.10.
The winner tracked a middling pace (:23 4/5, :48, 1:12 1/5) set by All I Can Get before launching his bid as the field rounded the turn. He finished under a vigorous hand ride.
Any Given Saturday is to run next in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) on March 17. Last year, WinStar and Pletcher took the same path to the Derby with Bluegrass Cat, who finished second behind Barbaro in the 2006 Run for the Roses.
“That’s been the plan (for Any Given Saturday) all along," Pletcher said. "Obviously he’s going to tell us what he needs to do, but hopefully that’s the path.”
Any Given Saturday last ran in the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Nov. 25, finishing second to Tiz Wonderful.
Divine Master finished fourth, followed by Brisco N Logan and Singapore Swing. Monster Drive, the second choice behind Any Given Saturday, was last in the seven-horse field after pressing the pace.
Pletcher and Velasquez scored back-to-back stakes victories by capturing the $125,000 Endeavour Stakes with Cassydora. Bright Abundance places second and Warrior Girl finished third. Cassydora is owned by Green Hills Farm and has now notched back-to-back victories under Pletcher’s care.
“She’s got good form from Europe,” said Pletcher. “My main concern was when she went to the lead. I wasn’t sure she could handle it, but she obviously did.” (Chart, Equibase)