(Social Paranoia / Coady Photography)
(Trainer Todd Pletcher / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)
From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:
He’s won the Florida Derby (G1) more times than any trainer in its history and led Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet standings a record 16 times, including a staggering 15 in a row from 2004-18.
Now, Todd Pletcher is looking to add the Pegasus World Cup to a crowded Hall of Fame caliber resume that already boasts multiple Kentucky Derby (G1), Belmont Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Cup race victories as well as a record seven Eclipse Awards.
Pletcher, 53, has three contenders for the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) Jan. 23 in graded-stakes winners Largent and Social Paranoia and recent Tropical Park Derby winner Colonel Liam. All three are coming off victories over Gulfstream’s grass course.
“The good thing for us is they all seem to like this turf course. They all have very good records here,” Pletcher said. “We’re pretty pleased with their final races over this course and the way they’ve been training, and the fact that their records are all good here gives us added optimism.”
Though he won’t have a starter in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1), Pletcher has enjoyed success in the event in past years, respectively running third and fourth with Neolithic and Keen Ice in the inaugural 2017 edition and fifth with Audible in 2019.
Pletcher is a five-time winner of the Pegasus’ predecessor, the Donn Handicap (G1), with Harlan’s Holiday (2003), Quality Road (2010), Graydar (2013), Constitution (2015) and Mshawish (2016).
“I’m a great fan of the Donn Handicap. It was a race that was very good to us over the years, but the Pegasus kind of brings it up a notch and makes it a must-see race,” Pletcher said. “It’s always exciting to have horses running in big races.
“I think it’s great that Gulfstream’s done this with the two Pegasus races,” he added. “It gives us kind of marquee event at the meet where, maybe outside of the Florida Derby, we were missing that kind of marquee day.”
Pletcher Interview: Click here to view
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s 5-year-old gelding Largent, winner of the Fort Lauderdale (G2) Dec. 12; The Elkstone Group’s 5-year-old Social Paranoia, winner of the Appleton (G3) on the 2020 Florida Derby undercard; and Robert and Lawana Low’s 4-year-old colt Colonel Liam are a combined eight-for-10 on the Gulfstream turf, with one second and one third.
Pletcher has won the Florida Derby five times between 2007 and 2018, with 2017 victor Always Dreaming going on to capture the Kentucky Derby. While better known for his prolific dirt horses, he has enjoyed success on the grass with horses such as 2007 turf champion English Channel and Grade 1 winners Honey Ryder and Wait a While, and he won the Pegasus Turf’s predecessor, the Gulfstream Park Turf (G1), with Mshawish in 2015.
Other notable milestones Pletcher has reached at Gulfstream include career wins No. 1 (Feb. 25, 1996) with Majestic Number, No. 3,000 (Feb. 11, 2012) with Spring Hill Farm and No. 4,000 (March 18, 2016) with Eagle Scout.
While he figures in the mix for two of the five graded-stakes on the Pegasus undercard – the $125,000 Fred W. Hooper (G3) with Haikal and $125,000 La Prevoyante (G3) on turf with Always Shopping and Cap de Creus – Pletcher would like to add a Pegasus Turf win to his long list of Gulfstream accomplishments.
“I’d like to hope that it shows our versatility, that were able to be successful on turf and dirt, and with younger horses and older horses,” he said. “It’d be a fun win for any of the three that hopefully could do it.”