Every week, they come to Gulfstream Park with high expectations, low odds and exemplary pedigrees.
They are the Todd Pletcher three-year-olds, and this season, they’ve rarely disappointed. It’s early February, but the nation’s leading trainer in earnings appears to be the front-runner on the Kentucky Derby trail with some strong contenders.
Pletcher, whose lone Derby win is with Super Saver in 2010, submitted 32 nominations to the Triple Crown. Among them are Holy Bull winner Algorithms, Kentucky Jockey Club champ Gemologist and impressive allowance winners El Padrino and Discreet Dancer.
Algorithms, a son of Bernardini, vaulted to the top of many handicapper’s Derby rankings after he strolled past Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion Hansen over a sloppy track in the one-mile Holy Bull. Now 3 for 3, he’ll likely continue to the Fountain of Youth on February 26 and a possible rematch with Hansen.
Gemologist, also 3 for 3, took a two-month rest after his win in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. The son of two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Tiznow returned to the track for his first published workout Sunday at Palm Meadows in Florida, and is likely several weeks away from his next race.
El Padrino is one of Pletcher’s wild cards. The son of Pulpit is 2 of 4, with both wins coming on tracks labeled sloppy or good. While he obviously prefers the mud, his performances on fast tracks weren’t disappointing, as he finished a good third in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct.
Discreet Dancer absolutely dominated his foes in both starts at Gulfstream. The son of new sire Discreet Cat doesn’t boast the stamina pedigree of some of his stablemates, and he’s yet to go beyond a mile, but his ability to quickly separate himself from the field makes him one to watch.
Could Pletcher bring a filly to the Derby? He’s nominated the talented Disposablepleasure, a daughter of 2005 Kentucky Derby victor Giacomo. She overcame a bad stumble to win the Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct in November. Even if she doesn’t make the gate for the Run for the Roses, she’s one to keep an eye on for the Kentucky Oaks.
Other Pletcher runners to monitor include maiden winners Ender Knievel and Thunder Moccasin.