Breeders’ Cup Classic Still in Play for Pletcher’s Jockey Club Gold Cup Quartet
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said Bass Racing’s Kentucky homebred Annapolis is eyeing the Grade 1, $1 million Coolmore Turf Mile versus older company on October 8 at Keeneland after posting an easy victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Saranac at 1 1/16-miles on turf for sophomores.
Annapolis, a dual graded stakes winner, registered a 96 Beyer Speed Figure with Saturday’s commanding gate-to-wire effort under the meet’s leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr.
By War Front and out of graded stakes winner My Miss Sophia, Annapolis added a third stakes victory, and second at graded level, to his resume, having never finished worse than second in six lifetime starts.
A first-out maiden winner over the Spa’s inner turf last September, Annapolis captured the Grade 2 Pilgrim one month later at Belmont Park. He returned to action in the Grade 2 Penn Mile in June where he was second as the favorite over extremely soft turf before winning the Manila on July 4 at Belmont and finishing second in the Grade 1 Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 6 at the Spa.
Pletcher said he had initially considered training Annapolis up to the Coolmore Turf Mile, a Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” event for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile on November 5 at Keeneland.
“He’s a colt that carries his condition really well and takes his races in good order. We just felt like our best chance at the Coolmore Mile was with another race under his belt,” said Pletcher, who won the 2005 Turf Mile with Eugene Melnyk’s Host. “It seemed to work out nicely. He got a pretty easy race yesterday and I didn’t think it would be taxing race on him so hopefully it moves him forward to his best effort in the Coolmore Mile.”
Although Annapolis’ Saranac victory was a frontrunning score, Pletcher said he runs better with a target.
“He’s talented enough that in a race like yesterday where there was no pace, he could go ahead and take charge. I think ideally, he wants to be covered up a little bit,” Pletcher said.
While Grade 1 Whitney winner Life Is Good appears to be Pletcher’s heaviest hitter for the Grade 1, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, he still has under consideration his four contenders from Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup, including runner-up Americanrevolution, who finished two lengths behind Olympiad in his 10-furlong debut.
“I thought he ran well. It was a tricky race where there was no pace, and it makes it difficult for horses trying to close ground against very soft fractions,” Pletcher said. “That’s where you saw a difference in the Jockey Club and the Whitney. Life Is Good turned up the backside and throws down a 23 opening quarter and changes things a lot. For our horses yesterday, the pace scenario didn’t play to their strengths, but I thought Americanrevolution kept fighting hard to the wire.”
Americanrevolution, the 2021 New York-Bred Horse of the Year, captured the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on December 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack and entered the Jockey Club Gold Cup off a runner-up effort to Olympiad in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster on July 2 at Churchill Downs.
Pletcher also saddled Untreated [fourth], Keepmeinmind [fifth] and Dynamic One [sixth] in Saturday’s race. The latter, who won the Grade 2 Suburban on July 9 going 10 furlongs at Belmont, was compromised by a slow pace and was left with too much to do from last-of-8 into the first turn.
“He was last turning up the backside and when they’re going that slow it’s hard to make much of an impact from there,” Pletcher said. “Keepmeinmind was kind of in the same boat as Dynamic One, just had too much to do from where he was at the three-quarter pole.”
Untreated, owned by Team Valor, finished three-quarters of a length behind third-place finisher First Captain. The son of Nyquist entered off a string of third-place finishes in the Suburban and the Grade 3 Pimlico Special on May 20, which was won by First Captain.
“He ran hard and it was unfortunate that he missed third but it was a good effort and I was happy with it,” Pletcher said.
Pletcher mentioned both the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward on October 1 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet and the Grade 2, $500,000 Lukas Classic on the same day at Churchill Downs as possible targets for all four horses. He also mentioned the possibility of training up to the Classic as well.
Pletcher said he was “making headway” with Grade 3 Dwyer winner Charge It, who missed last Saturday’s Grade 1 Runhappy Travers due to a foot abscess.
Pletcher added that Repole Stable’s second out maiden winner Chocolate Gelato, who worked a half-mile in 49.22 seconds on Sunday morning, is targeting the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette on October 2 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet. The one-turn mile race is a Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 4 at Keeneland and has been won by Pletcher with Adieu , Devil May Care  and Dreaming of Julia .
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Annapolis wins the Grade 3 Saranac (Dom Napolitano)