LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Todd Pletcher is certainly goosing his odds of ending an 0-for-14 streak in the Kentucky Derby. He plans to enter a record-tying five horses in Saturday's race - a quarter of the expected 20-horse field - although none of them figures to be the favorite.
"I'm not as excited about having five in there," he said. "I want to have one that wins."
This year, he's saddling Any Given Saturday, Circular Quay (pronounced key), Cowtown Cat, Scat Daddy and Sam P.
"I still don't feel like in years past that we've brought the best horse to the race," he said. "I'm hoping this year that maybe one of ours is."
Two of his horses - Circular Quay and Scat Daddy - are coming off extended layoffs, and history dictates Derby winners run within four weeks of the first Saturday in May.
Three of Pletcher's previous Derby starters had layoffs longer than three weeks going into the race, so this year the trainer is in uncharted territory. Louisiana Derby winner Circular Quay will have had an eight-week break, while Florida Derby winner Scat Daddy comes in off a five-week rest.
"Most of the final preparations have been a little further out than they would have normally been. So that's one adjustment that we've made trying to improve on our Derby results," he said. "Bring in maybe a little fresher horse than we have in the past."
That represents a change in Pletcher's thinking. This year, he's chucked tried-and-true Derby trends and is relying on the tendencies of his own horses.
"The horses that we train tend to do much better with time between races and I just don't see why that wouldn't apply to the Kentucky Derby," he said.
Except for the Triple Crown races, Pletcher has enjoyed huge success during his 11-year career, giving him the confidence to deviate from the norm. He has won three consecutive Eclipse Awards as the nation's top trainer. His horses earned more than $26.8 million last year, surpassing his previous record by $6 million, and his 100 stakes wins broke the record of 92 set by his mentor, D. Wayne Lukas.
133RD KENTUCKY DERBY
WHERE: Churchill Downs; Louisville, Ky.
POST TIME: Saturday, 6:04 p.m.
TELEVISION: NBC-Ch. 26
PURSE: $2 million
DRAW: Today, 5 p.m. ESPN