Saratoga: Pletcher sets record with 10th training title
SARATOGA SPRINGS Now, Todd Pletcher has another training record at Saratoga Race Course.
He already had set the mark for most wins in a meet, with 38 in 2011, and now he has 10 total championships after winning 36 races at the 2013 meet.
That passed the nine meet titles for Hall of Famer Bill Mott.
It was also the fourth year in a row Pletcher won, and the third in a row in which Mechanicville native Chad Brown finished second.
Pletcher wasn’t pleased with the quantity so much as the quality of the wins this year.
He won 10 graded stakes, including four of the 16 Grade I stakes during the 40 days of racing.
Pletcher said it was probably the best of his 10 championship meets.
“I think you can make that case,” he said. “I think we’re at 14 stakes wins and four Grade I’s, and it’s also reflected in our purse earnings. It’s our highest earnings at this meet, and even though that’s somewhat a reflection of the increased purses, it was our most well-rounded meet. I would’ve loved to have topped it off with a Travers, but that one slipped away from us.”
Pletcher won Grade I races with Princess of Sylmar, owned by Schenectady native Ed Stanco, in the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama, with Cross Traffic in the Whitney and with long shot Capo Bastone in the King’s Bishop.
Pletcher also won the Whitney in 2007 with Lawyer Ron and in 2002 with Left Bank.
“The Whitney and the Alabama were the big ones,” he said. “Whenever you win historic races like those — and it was our first Alabama win — those are pretty special.”
Pletcher’s first title came in 1998, then he won five straight from 2002-2006.
“The first one’s always special; it’s kind of one of those fist-pump moments,” he said. “Then, when you get to 10, it’s more time to reflect a little bit and appreciate the entire body of work.”
Pletcher also had his highest purse total at a Saratoga meet.
“It exceeded our expectations,” he said. “The 2-year-olds ran well and the stakes horses ran well, all the things we talked about needing to happen when the meet started.
“You get a couple days to regroup, and then I’m going to Lexington for the [Keeneland] sale. It’s 11 months until the next Saratoga, but a lot of it starts on Friday, when we start looking at yearlings. It’s non-stop.”
Brown finished with 24 wins from 87 starters (27.6 percent) for earnings of $2,277,378.
His meet highlight was winning the Grade I Sword Dancer with Big Blue Kitten on Aug. 17, the same day he won the Grade I Arlington Million in Chicago with Real Solution.
Javier Castellano capped his first jockey title at Saratoga by winning the finale on Blue Ballerina, giving him 66 winners, two shy of the record set by Ramon Dominguez last year.
‘A SPECIAL MOMENT’
Grand Arrival was a fitting name for trainer Nick Zito’s maiden winner on Saturday, as the son of Harlan’s Holiday arrived at the winner’s circle while led by exercise rider Raymond Bulgado.
Bulgado suffered a fractured neck in a training accident four days before.
“That’s real life, and it’s something where you put everything in perspective,” Zito said. “I was bawling like everybody else, and then I kind of got my composure because I didn’t want to lose the moment here.
“Obviously, God talks to you and says, ‘Make sure we enjoy the moment.’ That’s a good moment, a special moment.”
AROUND THE TRACK
Ichabod Crane High School graduate Phil Teator was aboard for the big long shot win in the first race on Monday’s card, 38-1 Tina’s Note.
It was Teator’s first win from six mounts at the meet, and his seventh all-time at Saratoga.
He last won at Saratoga on Sept. 7, 1998.
Tina’s Note paid $78.50 to win.