Pletcher Reaches 3000-Win Career Milestone
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Eight-time defending Gulfstream Park training champion Todd Pletcher attained a career milestone Saturday, notching his 3000th victory by saddling Spring Hill Farm for a trip to the Gulfstream winner’s circle in the third race.
“It gives you a little time to reflect. There’s not many opportunities to reflect in this business, but milestones like this gives you a chance to appreciate all of them,” Pletcher said following a winner’s circle ceremony that drew an enthusiastic ovation from the fans.
Well on his way to a ninth straight title, Pletcher became the 26th trainer in thoroughbred history to reach 3000 wins, a total achieved while competing at the sport’s highest level of competition. Spring Hill Farm’s front-running 1 ¼-length victory under jockey John Velazquez marked Pletcher’s 40th visit to the Gulfstream winner’s circle this season.
The former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas fittingly saddled his first winner, Majestic Number, at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26, 1996.
“It’s been a great run. We’ve been very fortunate – a lot of great owners, a lot of great horses, tremendous help, a tremendous staff,” Pletcher said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Had Pletcher set a new goal?
“Three thousand and one,” quipped Pletcher, whose 3,001th triumph came in the very next race with a maiden by the name of Majestic Number. Owner Gerald Bortolazzo named the colt in honor of Pletcher’s very first winner.
Pletcher has been honored with five Eclipse Awards for training excellence and has led the nation in purses-won on six occasions, including the past two years. During his career, he has saddled the winners of nearly $214 million in purses.
The 44-year-old native of Dallas has campaigned nine champions since launching his career, including 2007 Belmont Stakes-winning Rags to Riches, Ashado, English Channel, Left Bank, Uncle Mo, Lawyer Ron, Fleet Indian, Speightstown and Wait a While. In 2010, Pletcher realized every trainer’s dream by saddling Super Saver for victory in the Kentucky Derby.<