Todd Pletcher celebrated another year of life on Saturday, and we wish him many more to come!
What a privilege it has been to have the Hall of Fame trainer in our sport. Hot walking horses for his father at the age of seven, working for D. Wayne Lukas as an assistant trainer in 1991, and then thirty years later, still competing as one of the best thoroughbred trainers on the planet. Pletcher is continually adding to his legacy and showing no signs of stopping. We thank you.
We also want to congratulate Pletcher for his victory in Saturday's $250K Mother Goose Stakes (G2) with ZAAJEL, who was sent off at odds of 18-1.
Assistant Byron Hughes accepted the victory on the "Birthday Boy"'s behalf, who had been away to spend the day with family.
"It was my daughter Hannah's high school graduation, so it made for quite a nice day," said Todd Pletcher.
ZAAJEL took a tracking trip under Joel Rosario before dueling with 4-5 favorite ALWAYS CARINA in the stretch, and edging clear to win by a length. CLARIERE rallied to get up for third. The final time for the one mile and one-sixteenth on the dirt was 1:42.83.
"Zaajel started off very well and won her first two, including the Forward Gal, and we kind of got sidetracked when we went to the Fair Grounds," said Pletcher. "She didn't break well that day and misbehaved in the gate and got in a little bit of trouble in the first turn.
ZAAJEL paid $38.80 to win and $8.00 to place. She is by STREET SENSE out of ASIYA by DAAHER. She's now won 3 of 5 starts, pushed her earnings to $228,640 for winning owner Shadwell Stable, and achieved a new top speed figure for the effort. She gave trainer Todd Pletcher his fifth Mother Goose Stakes victory of all time.
"I'll talk to Rick Nicholls at Shadwell and come up with a plan," said Pletcher. "She's versatile enough that she's won graded stakes at a mile and a sixteenth and seven furlongs. I don't anticipate we'd want to run her in the Coaching Club with Malathaat on target for that, so we could look at something like the Test or even try two turns out of town. We'll play it by year. We won't rush back off of that effort."
Pletcher confirmed that the goal with ZAAJEL was to keep her separated from Kentucky Oaks heroine MALATHAAT, which explained why ZAAJEL had previously tried racing on the turf. ZAAJEL could be pointed to the $500K Test Stakes (G1) on August 7, while MALATHAAT is aimed for the $500K Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), coming up on July 24th.
"We've been blessed. It's terrific to have two high-quality fillies like that," said Pletcher.
Source: Equibase, NYRA Press Office, Paulick Report