Pletcher works Derby hopefuls

Updated: April 14, 2014, 1:05 AM ET
Bloodhorse



Undefeated Besilu Stables Florida Derby winner Constitution returned to work for trainer Todd Pletcher at Palm Meadows Training Center the morning of April 13 with a half-mile breeze.

Constitution was one of three Pletcher-trained colts on the trail to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands to breeze Sunday at the Gulfstream Park satellite training facility, along with We Miss Artie and Intense Holiday.

In his first timed drill since the $1 million Florida Derby March 29, Constitution was timed in a leisurely :50.60 seconds.

"It was the exact same time he had in his first breeze after his allowance win [Feb. 22], so we're very pleased with that," said Pletcher, who now has a fourth Derby candidate in stunning Arkansas Derby winner Danza. "He went alone. He did it in relaxed fashion. The horse was moving super."

Constitution is 3-for-3 in his career, all during he Gulfstream meet this year. The son of Tapit broke his maiden at first asking for WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stables going seven furlongs Jan. 11 before coming right back to post a swift front-running triumph at 1 1/16 miles in the first-level allowance on Feb. 22. The bay colt dramatically made a successful jump to grade I company, closing strongly along the rail to win a photo finish over Wildcat Red in the Florida Derby.

WinStar won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver , Pletcher's only win in the Run for the Roses.

Starlight Racing's Intense Holiday and Ken and Sarah Ramsey's We Miss Artie breezed in company Sunday morning, each clocking a half mile in :48.90 seconds.

"I thought both horses worked well," Pletcher said. "They galloped out strongly. They looked good."

Intense Holiday finished third behind victorious Cairo Prince in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Jan. 25 before shipping to Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The Harlan's Holiday colt won the Risen Star in New Orleans and finished second in the Louisiana Derby.  This was his first drill since the March 29 Louisiana Derby.

We Miss Artie finished second in the Kitten's Joy Stakes on turf at Gulfstream Jan. 19 before finishing eighth on the main track in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Feb. 22. The son of Artie Schiller earned his ticket to Louisville with a victory on Polytrack in the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. This, too, was the dark bay colt's first timed drill since his most recent race.

"All three of those horses, if the weather cooperates, will breeze back here next Sunday and go to Churchill on the 22nd and have their final breeze at Churchill," the six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer said.

Pletcher was superbly pleased with Danza, who scored a decisive 4 ¾-length victory in Arkansas at 41-1 odds. The lightly raced son of Street Boss , ridden by Joe Bravo, previously made his 2014 debut after a six-month layoff at Gulfstream March 1, finishing third behind highly regarded stablemate Anchor Down.

"We're pretty excited. We were stepping out a bit," Pletcher said. "The horse always ran well and trained well. We felt we had one shot to put ourselves possibly in a position to get to Churchill. We were quietly expecting a good race, but, without a doubt, that exceeded everyone's hopes and expectations.

"I'm sure right after the race most people did what I would have done if I were on the outside looking in-grabbed the past performances and said, 'Look at this horse!' " Pletcher added. "When you look at it now, you see a horse that won his maiden impressively first time out at Belmont, just missed in a flying finish in the Saratoga Special and ran a better-than-it-looked third in an allowance race at Gulfstream."

Pletcher, whose Arkansas Derby winner was scheduled to ship from Oaklawn Park to Churchill Downs later Sunday, reported that firm plans have yet to be made regarding riders on his four horses that qualified for the first leg of the Triple Crown.

"We have Javier [Castellano] on Constitution and we're in the process of firming everything else up," Pletcher said. "I'll talk to Aron Wellman from Eclipse, but I imagine they'll ride Joe Bravo back."

Pletcher recently captured his 11th straight training title at Gulfstream's Champions Meet.

"We had an excellent winter. The Gulfstream meet was good to us and we were able to ship out to win the Risen Star, Spiral, and Arkansas Derby. We had Palace Malice come back and run a big race. I'd say all in all, I'd have to say it was a successful winter," he said

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