Travelin Man Puts Pletcher Back in Winner's Circle
HALLANDALE, FL – One day after saddling five winners, including Gulfstream Oaks (G2) heroine R Heat Lightning and Rampart (G3) winner Awesome Maria, trainer Todd Pletcher got right back to his winning ways on the Sunday’s Florida Derby Day program at Gulfstream Park.
The 2011 meeting’s leading trainer sent out heavily favored Travelin Man for a popular victory in the $150,000 Swale (G2), carded as the third race on the 12-race program.
The 2-5 favorite broke alertly from his outside post in the five-horse field to stalk long shot stablemate Razmataz along the backstretch and around the turn. As Razmataz began to fade after setting quarter-mile fractions of :23 1/5 and :46 2/5, John Velazquez sent Travelin Man to the lead approaching mid-stretch and the son of Trippi powered away to a two-length score.
“Breaking from the outside, we were in perfect position. He was able to sit back and relax and had plenty of kick left for the stretch,” said Velazquez, who also visited the Gulfstream winner’s circle with the Pletcher-trained Ice Cream Man one race earlier. “He was perfect.”
Indiano, an recent import from Panama, turned in his second-straight runner-up finish, a head in from of Little Drama.
“We were pretty close to the pace because they were going pretty slow. I had to move a little earlier than I wanted just to keep up with the favorite,” said jockey Julien Leparoux of Indiano’s trip. “There was no real excuse, though. When you’re going slow, you can move a little pre-mature.”
Travelin Man, who ran seven furlongs in 1:21 4/5, broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park in his debut on Jan. 6 before finishing second to Florida Derby starter Flashpoint in the Hutcheson Stakes (G2) on Feb. 26.
“With the inside post last time, he pretty much had to go (to the lead), but I think he’s better sitting off the pace. I’m not saying he was going to beat Flashpoint, but we would have liked to have switch post positions going in,” Pletcher said.
Travelin Man earned $90,000 for owner/breeder E. Paul Robsham Stables, also the owner of R Heat Lightning.
“I don’t know that he is limited to sprinting. He’s rateable and can relax,”We’ll stretch him out at some point. The Derby Trial might be a race that fits,” said Pletcher of the one-mile stakes at Churchill Downs on April 30.