Pletcher Seeking to Improve on Dismal Derby Record

Each spring the Road to the Kentucky Derby is populated by numerous top contenders from the barn of Todd Pletcher, but the seven-time Eclipse Award winner has won the Run for the Roses just once with 40 starters.

His one Kentucky Derby winner was Super Saver, who pulled off the mild upset in 2010, returning $18.00 for a $2 wager. The only trainer to start more runners in the race is Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Pletcher’s former boss.

While Bob Baffert’s duo of American Pharoah and Dortmund are getting much of the attention and are the top two betting choices in early Kentucky Derby betting, Pletcher has several contenders that can win.

Most notable is Carpe Diem, who is currently the third choice at Bovada in Kentucky Derby betting at 7-1. The colt has won four of his five career starts, his lone loss a runner up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

The colt is perfect this year in two starts, winning the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Toyota Blue Grass (G1).

Pletcher will saddle the undefeated Materiality, winner of the Florida Derby (G1) in his last outing. He earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure, tops among all of the Derby contenders.

The son of Afleet Alex will be bucking a trend. The colt did not make his debut until January and no winner of the race has been unraced as a juvenile since Apollo in 1882.

The colt is the fifth choice in early Kentucky Derby wagering at Bovada at 14-1.

Itsaknockout is currently 40-1, his price going up from 25-1 after he was soundly beaten in the Florida Derby where he checked in fourth, beaten 21 lengths.

The colt crossed the wire second in the Fountain of Youth (G2) two back and was placed first on the disqualification of Upstart, who interfered with the colt in deep stretch.

Stanford will bring speed to the Derby, last out setting the early fractions in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and getting caught late by International Star, beaten just a neck. He ran second to his stablemate Materiality two back in the Islamorada Handicap. The son of Malibu Moon was a $550,000 purchase.

Pletcher also could start Madefromlucky, who ran fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his last outing. The colt just made it into the Top 20 in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings.

However, after a workout this week, Pletcher suggested he may skip the Derby and point to the Peter Pan Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park on June 6.

Michael Dempsey will be providing full analysis of the Kentucky Oaks and Derby Day cards at