Todd Pletcher Profile
|Born||Jun 26, 1967|
Seven Eclipse Awards help prove record-breaking Texan's greatness in training circles.
American Thoroughbred horse trainer Todd Pletcher is regarded as one of the greatest in the sport. A seven-time Eclipse Award winner, he has trained some of the greatest racehorses in the world, including Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winners. He has an operation consisting of more than 200 horses with his runners contesting races at the top tracks in the US.
Todd Pletcher's career beginnings
Pletcher got involved with horses at a very young age, starting as a hot walker when he was seven. In horse racing, a hot walker is someone who hand walks horses following a workout on a racetrack. During his schooling, Pletcher would travel to Del Mar and Hollywood Park in California to work.
The Hall of Fame trainer began college in 1985 at the University of Arizona, which had a Race Track Industry Program. During college, he worked as a groom, the individual responsible for managing horses and their stables. He worked for fellow trainer D. Wayne Lukas at Arlington Park.
He went on to become a groom at Hollywood Park for Charlie Whittingham, one of the most celebrated trainers in US racing history.
After graduating with a degree in Animal Science in 1989, Pletcher went to work for Lukas in New York, where he eventually became an assistant trainer in 1991. During his time as East Coast assistant trainer, which lasted until 1995, he was responsible for developing horses such as Thunder Gulch, A Wild Ride, Flanders, Harlan and Serena's Song.
In December 1995, Pletcher obtained his trainer's licence and his first success shortly followed. In February 1996, Majestic Winner became his first winner at Gulfstream Park in Florida.
Pletcher's first breakout win came via three-year-old filly Ashado in the 2004 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. The runner went on to win that year's edition of the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Ashado was awarded the Eclipse Award for Champion Three-Year-Old Filly in 2004 and Eclipse Award for Champion Older Mare in 2005.
Breaking record after record
2005 was a notable year for Pletcher as he set a single-season earnings record with more than $20.8million in purse earnings as his horses won 10 Grade 1 events. Those victories included the Travers Stakes with Flower Alley and the Blue Grass Stakes with Bandini.
Pletcher broke the earnings record again in 2006 when his trainee Fleet Indian won the Beldame Stakes. That same racing day, he registered wins with English Channel in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes, Honey Ryder in the Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes, and India in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Breeders' Cup Handicap. All of those victories contributed to total yearly earnings of $26.8million.
That same year, his two-year-old Scat Daddy scored the $400,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. That victory put Pletcher at 93 stakes wins for the year, meaning he broke a 19-year-old North American record. The previous record was held by none other than Pletcher's mentor, D. Wayne Lukas.
First Triple Crown race victory
Pletcher's first victory in a Triple Crown race came in the 2007 Belmont Stakes with Rags to Riches, the first filly to win the event since 1905.
In 2010, he guided Super Saver to win his first Kentucky Derby and in 2013, he took the Belmont Stakes again with Palace Malice. In the Belmont, he trained five runners, including Unlimited Budget, the only filly among the field of colts.
The 2013 Kentucky Derby field contained five colts trained by Pletcher, which was the most of any trainer in the event's history. That year's Kentucky Oaks field also contained five fillies trained by Pletcher, with his Princess of Sylmar (pictured) winning the race.
Pletcher led all trainers in multiple categories in 2014, including purse earnings, graded stakes wins and stakes wins. He received his seventh career Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer that year too.
He led all trainers in earnings once again in 2015 and guided Liam's Map and Stopchargingmaria, Eclipse Award finalists and winners of Breeders' Cup events.
The trainer impressed once again in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. In the months leading up to the race, Pletcher had runners across multiple tracks acquiring Kentucky Derby qualifying points. His top names that year included Always Dreaming, Tapwrit and Malagacy. He took the Derby with Always Dreaming and followed this up with success in the Belmont Stakes with Tapwrit.
Pletcher's 2018 season saw the trainer score his 10th Breeders' Cup World Championships victory with Bulletin in the Juvenile Turf Sprint. He also won Grade 1 events with Audible and Magnum Moon.
In 2019, Pletcher registered another key win when he scored a Dubai World Cup victory with Coal Front in the Godolphin Mile. He also won his first Breeders' Cup Classic with Vino Rosso, giving him a total of 11 Breeders' Cup wins.
2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby
Pletcher plays a key role each year on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and the 2021 edition was no different.
He had four runners in the Kentucky Derby but none of them managed to place. Known Agenda was the best performer, finishing ninth, nearly 11 lengths back from winner Medina Spirit. Sainthood and Bourbonic were 11th and 13th respectively, while Dynamic One finished 18th.
Todd Pletcher News
- Jun 04, 2021
- May 30, 2021