Trainer Todd Pletcher has been a victim of it for many years. “I think a lot of times [Derby Fever is] about managing expectations of the owners and everyone sort of has a different path that they would like to take or sees a path that they feel like might be best for their horse,” Pletcher said.
In 2010, Pletcher won the Kentucky Derby with Super Saver. He is known for having multiple horses every year and says that dealing with most owners is the same every year, even with new faces.
“It’s just something you deal with because that’s what you do and something you’ve done a number of times in the past. In a lot of ways, it’s kind of doing the same thing you did last year or the year before with different players,” Pletcher said. “I suppose it’s a little bit like the basketball tournament. Sometimes you show up and you know what the goal is and you know what you need to do to get there, but you might have different players on the roster that you’re trying to accomplish those goals with.”
Pletcher is sending Gemologist to the weekend’s Wood Memorial in the hope of getting the colt a top placing in the race to get into the Kentucky Derby. Gemologist’s only stakes run resulted in a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and he is currently sitting at the No. 30 spot on the Kentucky Derby Graded Earnings list.
While Gemologist’s 2012 Kentucky Derby hopes sit on only one more race, the colt’s connections are okay if he misses the Derby. Even though there are a few other Derby preps that Gemologist could enter if he doesn’t do well, his connections don’t look to throw another race into the colt to make the earnings list.
“One of the things that Elliott Walden and I talked about when we decided to run in the allowance race at Gulfstream instead of the Rebel at Oaklawn was if he didn’t get enough earnings in his final prep to go on to the Kentucky Derby, that we were willing to live with that and the Preakness would be a next goal,” Pletcher said. “So I doubt that we would try to cram another race in just to make the Derby.”
Derby Fever is a major part of the three-year-old season but Todd Pletcher has a handle on how to keep both horse and owner happy. From Gemologist to El Padrino, Pletcher has all sorts in his barn to take to the Derby and the other Triple Crown races.
The graded stakes earnings available this weekend may clear up which horses can “join in the Kentucky Derby dance”. Then starts the horses connections looking for 2012 Kentucky Derby tickets and making plans to go to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on that first Saturday in May. I know Kentucky Derby Tours will be there!