Pletcher’s posse runs 6-7 deep

Trainer could saddle six or seven horses for this year’s Run for the Roses

Todd Pletcher, who shares the Kentucky Derby record with five horses saddled at the Run for the Roses, could field as many as six or seven in this year’s race May 4 at Churchill Downs. “Right now, at this stage, I can’t recall having this depth,” the trainer said. Enlarge photo

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press file photo

Todd Pletcher, who shares the Kentucky Derby record with five horses saddled at the Run for the Roses, could field as many as six or seven in this year’s race May 4 at Churchill Downs. “Right now, at this stage, I can’t recall having this depth,” the trainer said.

No trainer has started more than five horses in a Kentucky Derby.

The way the Derby prep season is shaping up, that could change. Todd Pletcher has a shot at saddling six or seven of the 20 3-year-olds who will be led into the starting gate at Churchill Downs on May 4.

“Right now, at this stage, I can’t recall having this depth,” the trainer said during a conference call Tuesday.

Great expectations in mid-February, he cautioned, quickly can turn by the first Saturday in May.

“But we are hopeful we’re able to keep it going,” Pletcher said.

Pletcher’s posse of prospects is led by Shanghai Bobby, who remains No. 1 in the AP’s latest Run to the Roses list of Top 10 Derby contenders.

Also on the list are No. 4 Violence, No. 5 Verrazano and No. 8 Overanalyze. Other Pletcher 3-year-olds considered to be on the Derby trail include Capo Bastone, Delhomme, Palace Malice and Revolutionary.

“At this point, it’s as many as six or seven, but none of them have gotten there yet,” he said.

Pletcher and two Hall of Famers, D. Wayne Lukas and Nick Zito, share the record of five starters in a Derby. Only Lukas came out a winner, with Grindstone in 1996.

The new Top 10 has one change – Super Ninety Nine moves in at No. 7 for trainer Bob Baffert after an 11-length romp in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Monday.

This weekend, two of Pletcher’s charges are ready to run: Violence is the morning-line favorite in a field of 11 for Saturday’s Fountain of Youth, and Palace Malice has a chance to step up in Saturday’s Risen Star at the Fair Grounds, a race that drew a field of 15.

As for Shanghai Bobby, the colt had his first workout Sunday since his first career loss in the Holy Bull last month. Pletcher said the son of Harlan’s Holiday ran “extremely well” in the Holy Bull but was tired for a week after the race. Now, “his energy level is good, and he’s back to serious training.”

Shanghai Bobby will be on a weekly workout regimen leading to his final Kentucky Derby prep, the Florida Derby on March 30.

This weekend marks a huge increase in points awarded for the first four finishers in designated prep races. The breakdown is 50-20-10-4 for both the Fountain of Youth and the Risen Star. If more than 20 are entered for the Derby, the field will be determined for the first time by point totals rather than graded stakes earnings.

It was a good holiday weekend for Baffert, who spent a few days vacationing in Mexico while his horses were winning in Arkansas and California. In addition to his win with Super Ninety Nine at Oaklawn, his Shakin It Up won the seven-furlong San Vicente at Santa Anita.

Violence, jockeyed by Javier Castellano and trained by Todd Pletcher, was a perfect 3-for-3 last season as a 2-year-old. Now 3, the ballyhooed thoroughbred will make his debut at the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs. Enlarge photo

Benoit Photo file photo

Violence, jockeyed by Javier Castellano and trained by Todd Pletcher, was a perfect 3-for-3 last season as a 2-year-old. Now 3, the ballyhooed thoroughbred will make his debut at the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs.