Pletcher may be without Kentucky Derby contender

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Saratoga Racecourse

No trainer has run more horses in the Kentucky Derby than Todd Pletcher but he may be without a contender in next week’s ‘Run for the Roses’.

Pletcher, who won the Derby in 2010 with Super Saver and again in 2017 when Always Dreaming prevailed, retains entries in the September 5th contest with Dr Post and Money Moves; but neither are certain to line up.

The Dallas, Texas-based trainer has run 54 horses in the Kentucky Derby in his career thus far. Pletcher is eyeing up a crucial piece of work at Saratoga with his charges before making a firm call over the weekend on where to aim.

The Grade 2, $150,000 Jim Dandy on September 5th at Saratoga and the $100,000 Federico Tesio on September 7th at Laurel Park are seen as viable alternatives to the Kentucky Derby.

Dr Post, Money Moves and promising allowance winner Happy Saver are set to go through their paces at Saratoga before Pletcher settles on a forward plan.

“They are all working [Friday], and we’ll finalize plans probably on Saturday and see who will stay here and maybe who will go to Kentucky,” Pletcher said. “The Tesio on the seventh is a possibility.”

Dr Post is the most obvious Kentucky Derby player amongst the trio. He finished second to Tiz The Law in the Belmont Stakes in June. That rival has since scorched to victory in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes and tops the market for the ‘Run for the Roses’.

He has since run third in the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth last month. With 80 qualifying points and $331,035 in non-restricted stakes earnings putting him in eighth in the Kentucky Derby standings he’s assured of his place should Pletcher elect to go that route.

Money Moves and Happy Saver will both face stakes company for the first time in their next starts, wherever they go.

Costing just shy of $1m at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sale, Money Moves won his first two starts at Gulfstream Park and finished and earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure when finishing second behind Prioritize at Saratoga last month.

Happy Saver has followed a similar trajectory, having made a winning debut on Belmont Stakes Day as a three-year-old and backed it up over 1m1f since at Saratoga. The Jim Dandy over that same trip is a workable alternative to The Derby and both Money Moves and Happy Saver have the scope to step up in class, according to their trainer.

“They’ve run well enough in their allowance races to show they have stakes in their future,” Pletcher said. “We’ll see if they can handle the step up in class. I think all three are high-quality colts and train accordingly.”