AMERICAN GRADED STAKES STANDINGS brought to you by Keeneland: EVANS, PLETCHER, MOON BENEFIT FROM A ‘PRAYER’
By Ray Paulick
Last week, this column covered the growing success of California trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, one of the sport's all-time leaders by wins, and wouldn't you know that The Dorf registered his 13th American Graded Stakes victory of 2010 just a few days later when Dakota Phone pulled off a minor upset in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. As his successes in AGS races mount, it really is just a matter of time before Hollendorfer is recognized for his accomplishments by earning a deserved place on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. 2011 perhaps?
Speaking of trainers, it's another week, another Todd Pletcher AGS victory. This time it was with Malibu Prayer for Edward Evans in the Ruffian Invitational at Saratoga. The Malibu Moon filly became the 21st individual AGS winner of 2010 for Pletcher, who now has won 32 of the 273 Graded Stakes run in the U.S. thus far this year. Some trainers struggle to keep 21 horses in their stable; it is hard to fathom that Pletcher's shedrows house 21 AGS winners, and there undoubtedly are more to come.
Malibu Prayer also was the sixth individual AGS winner for Spendthrift Farm stallion Malibu Moon, who started his stud career at the Pons family's Country Life Farm in Maryland before success paved his path to Kentucky. I think it can safely be said this son of A.P. Indy now resides in the fraternity of the breed's most elite stallions now at stud.
Finally, Malibu Prayer became the third individual AGS winner of 2010 for Edward P. Evans, joining the top older runner Quality Road, who goes in this weekend's Whitney at Saratoga, and 3-year-old colt A Little Warm, winner of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga one day before the Ruffian.
Evans has achieved great success in Graded Stakes with a small but elite broodmare band. Those accomplishments never seem to get the attention of voters when it comes time for the Eclipse Awards, but I'm certain they have earned the respect of his fellow horsemen around the world.