Pletcher coy over Breeders’ Cup for Happy Saver

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Mar 31, 2018; Hallandale Beach, FL, USA; Trainer Todd Pletcher stands in the winners circle after a race during Florida Derby day at Gufstream Park. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Pletcher says connections will take some time to think before deciding if Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Happy Saver heads for the Breeders’ Cup Classic next month.

The Grade 1 contest at Belmont Park has given Pletcher his share of heartache down the years but he finally conquered it with Happy Saver.

Keen Ice [2017], Palace Malice [2013], Stay Thirsty [2012], Quality Road [2010], Lawyer Ron [2007] and Newfoundland [2004] had all finished second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup for the Pletcher team, while in 2019 Vino Rosso passed the post in first only to have the race taken away after causing interference with runner-up Code Of Honor.

There were no such concerns for Happy Saver, who had the aid of the running rail in landing his breakthrough top level success.

“That was a race that had been alluding us for a while,” Pletcher said. “I thought we broke through last year only to be disqualified.

“Not only had we not won it, but we had seven seconds, a number of which were very close. It was a very rewarding win for the whole team and it was nice to do it for the Wertheimers [owners], who have been loyal supporters of ours for a long time. He’s by Super Saver and out of a mare we trained, so it was a great win all the way around.

“He looks good,” Pletcher added. “He seemed to bounce out of everything well. He’s a little bit tired, which I would expect after running a race like that. It seems like he’s in good shape.”

Pletcher admits there’s quite a strong look to the progress Happy Saver is making in his fledgling career.

He only debuted at Belmont Park in mid-June and has now progressed to posting a career best 100 Beyer Speed Figure in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. His trainer acknowledges that such rapid progression is rare.

“What he’s been able to accomplish you don’t see very many other horses do,” Pletcher said.

“He went from a seven-furlong maiden on June 20 to a mile and an eighth allowance at Saratoga, to a mile and an eighth stake at Laurel Park and came back to Belmont and then to win a Grade 1 going a mile and a quarter against older horses is something you don’t see very often.”

His Belmont success was a “Win And You’re In” for the $6m Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 7th at Keeneland. Vino Rosso won the Classic last year after his Jockey Club disappointment in the stewards’ room and Pletcher says connections will give strong thought into sending Happy Saver to Keeneland next month.

“That’s what we’re going to think about,” Pletcher said. “We’ll see how he bounces out of this and let him take us there when he wants to. Speaking to the Wertheimers [after the race], they’re in no rush and they plan on racing him next year.”