St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Trainer's career success not based on big events

wire services
Published October 30, 2004

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Todd Pletcher has yet to win a Breeders' Cup or Triple Crown race. By other standards, the Dallas native is doing well.

Pletcher leads the nation's trainers in victories (203) and earnings ($13,707,158) through last week. He started his stable eight years ago after working as an assistant to Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas.

He set Saratoga's season record for winners last year with 35 and tied it this year.

The 37-year-old went to grade school in El Paso and high school in San Antonio. He left Texas years ago and is based in New York.

Pletcher's only other visit to Lone Star Park was during its opening season in 1997, when his horse finished third.

He saddles four horses today: Ashado in the Distaff, Speightstown in the Sprint, Proud Accolade in the Juvenile and Newfoundland in the Classic.

Last year at Santa Anita, he came close when Ashado was second in the Juvenile Fillies and Chapel Royal was third in the Juvenile.

"Winning those kind of races will come in time," Pletcher said Friday. "The idea is to keep getting good horses that you can develop so you can participate in something like the Breeders' Cup or the Triple Crown. I'm not consumed with it because there are many Hall of Fame trainers that have never won a Breeders' Cup or a Triple Crown race."

FAMILY CONNECTIONS: A trainer named Jerkens could win his first Breeders' Cup race.

It might be Allen, a 75-year-old Hall of Famer, or his 45-year-old son Jimmy.

Allen is 0-for-6 in Breeders' Cups. He trains Bowman's Band, who brings a 12-race losing streak into the $4-million Classic.

"He's a solid, hardworking professional," Allen Jerkens said of his horse. "The problem is that in New York, you face two or three tough ones every race. Here, you find seven or eight tough ones."

Jimmy Jerkens, who used to be his father's assistant, saddles Artie Schiller in the $1.5-million Mile on turf. Artie Schiller has won five of seven this year and is Jerkens' first Breeders' Cup starter.

LUCK OF THE IRISH: Ireland is the leading home of overseas Breeders' Cup winners.

Thirteen Irish-breds have won races since the event began in 1984, and all were on the turf except for 1991 BC Classic winner Black Tie Affair.

Britain has produced seven winners and France five.

Coolmore, Ireland's leading stud operation, has five horses running today. Johannesburg won the 2001 Juvenile for Coolmore.

Among the countries represented are Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and United Arab Emirates.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.