Hall of Shame without Pletcher
April 10, 2018 3:07 AM
by Steve Davidowitz
(Editor's Note: Todd Pletcher received his trainer's license in December 1995. Per Hall of Fame eligibility rules: "Trainers become eligible after 25 years as licensed thoroughbred trainers. Trainers remain eligible until 25 years following their retirement. Trainers retired for more than 25 years become eligible through the Historic Review Committee.")
Although trainer Todd Pletcher has won more than 4,000 races since the mid-1990’s and been voted the nation’s top trainer seven different years, he is not yet a member of Thoroughbred Racing’s Hall of Fame.
That’s more than a joke. It is an indictment on the way the Hall of Fame is structured. Just consider these added facts about Mr. Pletcher:
Among many achievements, Pletcher has won nine Breeders’ Cup races and five Triple Crown events – including last year’s Kentucky Derby with Always Dreaming. Just this past Saturday, he won the rich and important Wood Memorial stakes in New York, with the improving Vino Rosso.
Pletcher already has four horses qualified for starting slots in this year’s Run for the Roses and two more possible starters entered in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby - Brethren and Dance City. Please tell me how this man is not already in the Hall of Fame!
Here’s another issue that needs fixing.
As you can see in the Kentucky Derby charts on page 10, Churchill Downs’ point system to select the top 20 Derby starters unfairly eliminates fillies!
Fact: No filly will ever make the Derby starting gate without Churchill amending its point system to permit a terrific filly a way to qualify for the 20 horse Derby field. Under today’s rules, only the top four finishers in Graded stakes for 3-year-old males, can earn Derby Eligiblity Points. Thus, without change, we never again will see an historic filly such as Winning Colors or Genuine Risk compete in the world’s most famous race. That’s dead wrong.
For sure, the Bob Baffert trained Justify made a strong impression while remaining undefeated winning the SA Derby wire to wire over a game Bolt d‘Oro.
Justify earned 100 Derby eligibility points while hitting a solid 107 Beyer Speed Figure. Of equal import, he strode out nicely past the wire under Mike Smith.
Bold d’Oro also ran well, earning a career best 102 Beyer.
At Keeneland in Kentucky, highly regarded Good Magic scored a solid victory over Flameaway in the Blue Grass Stakes to earn a 95 Beyer. Thus Good Magic retained his status as a legit Derby contender.
At Aqueduct in New York, a very tenacious Vino Rosso, outfought and out-bumped Enticed, to give Todd Pletcher still another Derby contender.
The Stewards did take a long look at the stretch run before deciding to leave this result as it played out. Vino Rosso earned a 98 Figure; Enticed, a couple points less.
Here are my comments on the top 25 Kentucky Derby qualifiers by points:
1. Good Magic, won Blue Grass Stakes; 2. Audible,won Florida Derby; 3. Noble Indy, won;
4. Vino Rosso, won Wood Memorial; 5. Bolt d’Oro, OK 2nd in SA Derby; 6. Enticed, good 2nd in Wood; 7. Mendelssohn, dominated the rich UAE Derby;
8. Justify, remained undefeated winning SA Derby; 9. Flameaway, fair 2nd in Blue Grass Stakes; 10. Bravazo, Risen Star winner, had troubled La. Derby trip;
11. Promises Fulfilled, went well at Gulfstream March 3, hard to gauge; 12. Magnum Moon, won the Rebel, to go in Ark. Derby April 14; 13. Runaway Ghost, beat softer in Sunland Derby March 28;
14. Quip, might go in the Ark. Derby, not sure he belongs; 15. Free Drop Billy, badly bothered in Blue Grass, moved up to 3rd; 16. Lone Sailor, surprise 2nd to Noble Indy in La. Derby;
17. Hofburg, maiden winner lacks stakes experience; 18. Firenze Fire, fair fourth in the Wood Memorial; 19. Solomini, fair Rebel Stakes try last month. Out of Derby?
20. My Boy Jack, won Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn; 21. Instilled Regard, failed to impress in his latest; 22. Snapper Sinclair, poor try in the La. Derby; 23. Combatant, decent form at Oaklawn Park;
24. Blended Citizen, weak effort in the Blue Grass.; 25. Reride, please note: Gronkowski previously qualified for a Derby starting spot via performances in designated European races.
Also: The top turf sprinter Bound for Nowhere rallied strongly to win the 5-1/2 furlong Shakertown at Keeneland on Saturday. He defeated Buchero by four lengths in 1:03.77, to earn a solid 107 Beyer. On that same card,
Monomy Girl easily won the $500K Ashland to suggest she will be formidable in the Kentucky Oaks next month.
Lightly raced Army Mule, won the 7-furlong Carter on the Wood Memorial card as if he will be a major force in Grade-1 races up to a mile for the rest of 2018.
He won the Carter by more than six lengths and earned a terrific 114 Beyer Figure.