LOUISVILLE, (Reuters) – Super Saver trainer Todd Pletcher had a spring in his step Sunday as he prepared to send Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes.
Asked how he spent the night following Saturday’s triumph at Churchill Downs, Pletcher, who had saddled 24 unsuccessful starters in previous years, said: “We went back to our hotel and had some dinner with family and friends, like we always do.”
The 42-year-old Texas native paused, before adding, “Though I must say this one was more fun.”
Super Saver will train at Churchill Downs before being shipped to Pimlico Race Course on May 12, three days before the second leg of the Triple Crown series.
There is nothing to suggest that Super Saver, ridden by three-times Derby winner Calvin Borel, has a realistic chance of becoming the 12th first Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed in 1978.
Super Saver, a son of Maria’s Mon out of the A P Indy mare Supercharger, had run only twice this year before Saturday, finishing third in the Tampa Bay Derby before losing the Arkansas Derby by a neck after a late rally.
Borel brilliantly rode Super Saver to the rail to save ground in Saturday’s 20-horse affair before zig-zagging several times to steer clear of traffic.
Super Saver won by two-and-a-half lengths over late-charging Ice Box, the Florida Derby winner who had a rough ride under Jose Lezcano.
The Kentucky-bred chestnut was steadied three times to avoid traffic and double Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito was sad not to see the colt’s best effort.
“It was a tough race to lose, obviously, but a great race to be thankful for,” Zito told reporters on Sunday. “We have to be thankful for the horse we’ve got and, knock wood, it looks like he came back good. That’s the most important thing.
“He definitely had an excuse, that’s for sure. He was just as good as the winner. He just didn’t get the chance to win.”
Zito said he did not think the son of Pulpit would make the trip to Pimlico for the Preakness.
“I will not make a decision until next week,” Zito said. “But to run the horse off a six-week layoff and to see him have to check three times makes it hard to run back in two weeks and then again three weeks later (for the Belmont Stakes).
“If we had won it would have been a different story. You never say never, but it looks doubtful.”