Pletcher Pleased With Always Dreaming’s ‘Excellent’ Five-Furlong Work

by | 04.21.2017 | 1:30pm
Always Dreaming breezed at Palm Beach Downs April 21

Always Dreaming, an impressive winner of the Florida Derby (G1) April 1 at Gulfstream Park, breezed five furlongs Friday morning at Palm Beach Downs in 1:01.56, a move that pleased trainer Todd Pletcher.

“I thought it was excellent,” said Pletcher, who watched Always Dreaming work alone with jockey John Velazquez aboard. “We were looking for a nice, steady, solid stamina-building breeze. He was very relaxed, very happy, moving well, and galloped out great. I was very happy. He's been training great, eating well, energy level has been good. We're really excited about how he's doing.

“We have a flight to Churchill on Tuesday and an important work over the track there. Hopefully, he takes to that surface the way he has to every other surface he's been on and he stays healthy.”

Always Dreaming is just one of several classic contenders in Pletcher's barn. Patch, who finished second in the Louisiana Derby (G2) April 1 in just his third career start, worked Friday morning at Palm Beach in 1:01.30.

“He's not as impressive a work horse as Always Dreaming,” Pletcher said. “He's more of a workmanlike breeze horse. I thought it was a good, steady five-eighths, typical of what we saw from him all winter and spring.

“I was very pleased for him to go to Fair Grounds and finish a good quality second, closing ground at the end and galloping out in front. I don't think with his pedigree – being by a Belmont (G1) winner (Union Rags) and out of an A.P. Indy mare (Windyindy) – that distance should be an issue. I'm a little concerned about his lack of experience, lack of seasoning, but so far he's handled everything really, really well.”

Pletcher said Wood Memorial (G2) runner-up Battalion Runner is expected to ship to Churchill Downs Sunday. Pletcher said the son of Unbridled's Song has been doing well and believes “there's a couple reasons to think he will improve.”

“(The Wood) was his first race in 64 days and first at 1 1/8 miles, and I hope that brings him forward a bit,” he said.

Pletcher said he's “drawing a line” through Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Tapwrit's fifth-place finish in the Blue Grass (G2) April 8. “He got hung out pretty wide on the turn and ran kind of a flat race, but he seemed to come out well. Hopefully, he trains accordingly and comes back to his Tampa form,” he said.

Pletcher said he's “on the fence” on what direction he will take with Rebel Stakes (G2) winner Malagacy, who finished fifth April 15 in the Arkansas Derby (G1).

  • smoof

    i’m starting to think that way to interpret pletcher is to assume he is only voicing what his owners’ decisions are.

    always dreaming makes sense, he won the FL derby.

    but tapwrit’s 9f test was a lackluster, well beaten 5th in which he was a non-factor throughout, yet he is a definite go and a draw a line through last race. highest equibase rating 106. last out timeformus rating is too low to be on derby prep list. last out bris rating 87.

    patch never raced at 2 and has only a MSW win and a 2nd at 9f and is a definite go. highest equibase rating105. 110 last out timeformus rating. last out brus rating 98.

    battalion runner is a go despite fading on an uncontested lead at 9f to come in a well beaten 2nd. highest equibase rating 108. 117 last out timeformus rating. last out 98 bris rating.

    malagacy is on the fence. highest equibase rating 111. 115 last out timeformus rating. 93 last out bris rating.

    there doesn’t seem to be any ryhme or reason behind this other than all other questions and poor performances are ignored, except for malagacy who ran at least 55 feet longer than any of these at at least 11 feet longer than CE.

    maybe the pletcher curse is not a curse but a function of him running horses based not on whether he thinks they belong, but whether his owners think their horse belongs.

    baffert focuses on one or two of his best horses. trainers like doug o’neil usually only show up with one very good horse they focus exclusively on (irap is the exception, but he won a 100 point prep so he belongs).

    just a thought.

    • Michael

      You JUST figured that out?!!
      Trainers have very little choice as to who they will run in a race like Derby, it’s up to the owners.
      Obviously if the horse has an issue or is unsound he would have no problem telling an owner not to run.
      The bottom line is that if a horse is sound and eligible for the Derby on points(formerly graded stakes earnings) MOST owners will choose to run and invoke the names Mine That Bird and Giacomo when asked why they are choosing to run.
      If a trainer says he doesn’t want to run them the owner will simply transfer the horse to another barn and run the horse with another trainer.
      In defense of Tapwrit’s owners, Keeneland has produced more than a few subpar performances by good horses who rebounded over the years, Thunder Gulch being the prime example(yes, I realize that was on a different dirt surface) as well as Pletcher’s very own Bluegrass Cat who ran a poor 4th in the Blue Grass Stakes and rebounded to run a race that would have won a lot of Derbies when he was second to Barbaro.
      Battalion Runner is probably acting to control the pace, with the same owner also owning Always Dreaming.
      Patch? Why not? He’s eligible and bred to run all day and needs to run somewhere.
      I doubt that Malagacy will be entered, he looks like a Peter Pan type horse or perhaps aiming at the Woody Stephens on Belmont Day shortening up.
      The bottom line is that the days of the tyrannical trainers who told owners what to do instead of vice versa are dead and gone.
      We’ve all heard the legendary tale of Allen Jerkens arriving at the barn and spying an owner leaning against his car reading a condition book and telling him to get his horses out of the barn because he wouldn’t have his owners telling him where to run.
      While that story is amusing(and probably even true) in today’s age the owner would simply shrug and move his horses to another top trainer.
      When horse racing was popular there were more good owners who needed a good trainer than there were trainers who needed good owners.
      With the absolute destruction of the middle market as far as ownership goes over the last 10-15 years, it’s now the GOOD OWNERS who are commodity because there are so few.
      Now the trainers have to kiss the good owners’ behinds, no matter how good they are at training.
      It’s a shame that the people who cover horse racing won’t write the truth about how this game really works now. With almost nobody alive left who cares about horse racing it’s no surprise that there’s a lack of talent in the media that covers racing!
      Get ready for more Pletcher bashing articles by these brain damaged nitwits who will misrepresent his Derby record(as if he’s been in 40 something Derbies!) as well as fail to point out that many of Pletcher’s past Derby runners were there because of the fine work he did just to make them eligible and that it was his owners who made the decision to run them.

    • SteveTG

      Pletcher’s record in the Derby speaks for itself (barely audibly).

    • Michael Castellano

      That certainly seems true, that it’s the owners that want to be in the Derby, that are behind many of the ones he runs. That might also be true of most of the Derby field. But with 20 horses running, it usually becomes a dart board race anyway. Especially this year

    • Al Milano

      There is nothing wrong with a trainer trying to please his owners. I have felt all along that is what Todd Pletcher is about. It even explains why he goes all out to win prep races, flattening out his horses prior to Derby Day. He needs to make money for the owners and that is appropriate. It’s just not a good path to winning the Derby. Go back and think about his Derby winner Super Saver. Not fully cranked before the big race and then wins it (with a super ride by Calvin). I’ve got a very knowledgeable friend who thinks Always Dreaming is in a different category; that the lemon isn’t fully squeezed yet. We will see, but I can’t in good conscience to my wallet bet any of this guy’s entries this year or any year until he becomes a different type of trainer.

  • affirmed

    Dont know, up to now, two weeks to go until the Kentucky Derby!! guess what, I still dont like any race horse for now, that is slated to run! however when that day comes, I usually make a wager, so I will close my eyes, and point my pen , and whatever number it lands on, then I will wager that Horse!! no… not really, I will find the winner, even if it’s a 3/5, 4/5, 2/1, 5/1, or 25/1, or 100/1, will bet the whole field for $20:00 to win on all the horses running.. I think Pletcher Horse showed he has the speed, and dont know if the 1.47.47 for the florida Derby, says he can rate, and stalk, and run away? dont know, no one horse will dictate his own pace, in this years derby! and win laughing, everyone will be in this race early, its a suspect bunch of Horses this 2017′ and no super Horse have emirged as yet, probably on Derby Day, only one will emirge , then it could mean an upset! just dont know, and just dont like any Horse this Derby!!

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