By Dick Downey
Todd Pletcher saw what he hoped when he looked in Florida Derby winner Audible this morning at his Palm Beach Downs stall.
“Excellent. He seemed to come out of it very well. We’re always anxious to see how they come out of it, but we could tell back at the barn after the race, it seemed like his energy level was very good, he cooled out quickly and was pretty enthusiastic as he was walking around the barn. We felt pretty confident that he took the race well,” Pletcher said. “You love to see them recover quickly, and he certainly did that, so that’s an encouraging sign.”
“I think the most important thing that he showed yesterday was that the stretch out to a mile and an eighth was no issue at all,” the trainer said, “so that gives us confidence that going a mile and a quarter is also in his range.”
Plans for shipping the colt to Kentucky are a work in progress. At this time of year, Pletcher always keeps an eye on the weather forecast in the Bluegrass State and in Florida.
“I haven’t decided for sure," Pletcher said. "I’d like to have at least one breeze over the Churchill track, possibly two. We’ll just kind of play it by ear. Last year, I was planning on going three weeks out and, looking at the forecast, it looked like they had a week full of rain so we postponed it a week and that worked out well for Always Dreaming. We’ll just see how things are going.”
Pletcher's success in the Florida Derby with five wins has led to one Kentucky Derby winner, the 2017 victor Always Dreaming, who's still in training. He's won four of the last five with Audible, Always Dreaming, Constitution (2014) and Materiality (2015). Constitution missed the Triple Crown races with an injury. Materiality finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby.
“The Florida Derby has been such a successful route to take to the Kentucky Derby recently and I think part of that is the strength of the 3-year-old program at Gulfstream. I think it’s ideally placed on the calendar being five weeks out. It seems to have a lot of momentum because of that,” Pletcher said. “I think anytime that you can win a grade 1, it’s so important to a horse’s career especially a stallion prospect. Ultimately, I think that’s our most important job as a trainer and a stable is develop stallions for our owners. Fortunately we’ve been able to do that, so it’s of utmost importance.”