(Photo: Annapolis winning last year’s Grade 1 Coolmore Turf Mile at Keeneland as a 3-year-old. Coady Photography)
By Tim Wilkin
FRANKLIN, Ky. (Friday, Sept. 1, 2023) —For the first time in a long time, Hall of Game trainer Todd Pletcher will have a heavy presence at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs.
Since 2006, the most horses the New York-based Pletcher has started at Kentucky Downs has been eight and he did that twice, in 2006 and 2009. In 2009, he won the training title with five wins.
This year, things are different. Eight Pletcher horses are entered to run over the next two days; he also has an also eligible for Sunday.
Quite a difference from years past. Since 2014, he has saddled a total of 16 horses; six of them last year.
“This is the first year in a while that we have left a presence at Churchill, so it makes it a lot easier to ship,” Pletcher said Friday from Saratoga. “And, it is very lucrative. At the end of the day, it makes it hard to pass up.”
And Pletcher is sending some of his heavy hitters to Kentucky Downs.
On Saturday, Spendthrift Farms’ Major Dude (4-1 on the morning line) goes in the $1 million Gun Runner for 3-year-olds going a mile; LSU Stables’ Mallymoo (15-1) makes her first start for the barn in the Grade 3, $1 million Big Ass Fans Music City Stakes and Bass Racing’s Annapolis (8-5 favorite) runs in the Grade 3, $2 million Mint Millions at a mile for 3-year-olds and up. First post for Saturday’s 11-race card is 12:30 p.m. Central.
On Sunday, among Pletcher’s entries is 3-year-old Far Bridge, who is the 8-5 favorite in the Grade 3, $1 million Dueling Grounds Derby for 3-year-olds.
“It just kind of, on the schedule, seemed to fit our horses,” Pletcher said.
Annapolis is coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga on Aug. 12. Pletcher usually prefers more time between races, but the 4-year-old son of War Front was giving his trainer signs he was ready to go.
“He is a big, strong horse, and he kind of took us there,” Pletcher said. “He touted us coming out of the Fourstardave.”
Annapolis has won six of 11 starts on grass and has finished second four times.
“We’re very excited,” said Perry Bass of Texas, who owns the colt with his mother, Ramona. “Obviously, Kentucky Downs has done a great job in putting those purses together. He came out of the Fourstardave just breathing fire, so we let him lead us to Kentucky Downs. We just hope he handles the track.”
If Annapolis does get to the winner’s circle, there will be a signed guitar from country music legend Tanya Tucker waiting. Those coveted instruments are given to the winning owners of the nine graded stakes races run during the meet.
“We love our country music down here in Texas,” Bass said. “So, that would be great to have.”