LEXINGTON, KY (April 15, 2017) – Trainer Todd Pletcher rocketed to the top of the Keeneland record book for most stakes victories Friday when WinStar Farm’s American Patriot rallied to win the $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) by a neck.
The triumph was his 51st here, breaking the mark established by his mentor D. Wayne Lukas. Pletcher tied Lukas last Sunday when Sweet Loretta won the Adena Springs Beaumont (G3).
“That was pretty good to get two in a week,” said Ginny DePasquale, who is overseeing Pletcher’s Keeneland string this spring. “That was something yesterday.”
Keeneland presented DePasquale with a sign signifying the accomplishment and it now has a temporary home in the tack room at the barn.
“I told Todd he has to carry the sign with him on stage Monday night,” DePasquale said, referring to the Consignors & Commercial Breeders’ Association’s annual symposium Monday in the Keeneland Sales Pavilion. That event will feature Lukas and many of his protégés, including Pletcher. “He said, ‘No way,’ but I said he had to do it.”
Pletcher earned his first Keeneland stakes victory in 1996 when Turkappeal won the Valley View. American Patriot’s Friday victory marked the 14th Grade 1 tally for Pletcher here with the first Grade 1 coming in the 2005 Toyota Blue Grass with Bandini.
DePasquale was not sure how many of the Keeneland stakes winners she had saddled here for Pletcher.
“I started working for Todd in the fall of 1997 and Turkappeal was still around,” DePasquale said. “I am in and out of here. I was here last fall and this spring, but then I may go for a couple of years without being here.”
After the race, American Patriot’s connections indicated a start in the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 6 was a possibility.
However, that 1 1/8-mile race is not in the plans for runner-up Heart to Heart.
“That would be coming back too quick,” trainer Brian Lynch said of Heart to Heart, who still is seeking his first Grade 1 win to go with a Grade 2 victory and seven Grade 3 triumphs.
“He always lays it down, but that was the toughest loss in a Grade 1 he has had,” Lynch added. “He is quiet this morning, but good. Fortunately, he is a lovely little horse and sound and he’ll be back to give it a try next year. He’ll be back in the fall for the Shadwell (Turf Mile-G1).”
Finishing a nose behind Heart to Heart was Conquest Panthera for trainer Mark Casse.
“I thought he ran super,” said David Carroll, who is overseeing Casse’s Keeneland string. “I had never seen him until he shipped in yesterday (from Churchill Downs). I looked at his form and his last race (the Canadian Turf-G3) was not bad.
“He came out of yesterday’s race good, cleaned up his feed and is perfect this morning.”
The connections of Ballagh Rocks were excited by his fourth-place finish – beaten less than a length – in the Grade 1 race said Riley Mott, assistant to his father, trainer Bill Mott.
“We’re thrilled with how he ran,” Riley Mott said about the 4-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic who had won his past three races. “First time in stakes company, and that was a pretty deep field. It was encouraging.”
Heading back to his home base Monday will be Bolo, who finished ninth as the favorite.
“That’s it. He’s never leaving California again,” trainer Carla Gaines said with a laugh as she held up her hands in mock surrender. “He came in here 110 percent, but two jumps out of the gate (jockey) Mike (Smith) knew he was in trouble. He was struggling on (the surface).”
Bolo has shipped four times from California and never finished better than ninth.
“The turf courses here are different from the ones in California,” Gaines said. “When Mike asked him to run, he bobbled badly and he basically took care of him the last sixteenth of a mile.”
Gaines said Bolo came out of the race fine and would be pointed to the $400,000 Shoemaker Mile (G1) on June 3 at Santa Anita.