Todd Pletcher became the 26th trainer to score 3000 wins, in the 3rd race at Gulfstream Park on Saturday February 11 with Spring Hill Farm. He ranks 17th among active trainers in victories, a list led by Jack Van Berg with 6,410. He said, "Accomplishing something like this gives you an opportunity to reflect a little bit, and there aren’t many opportunities to reflect in this business. This is one of them. It’s been a great run, and I am very fortunate to have had a lot of great owners, a lot of great horses, tremendous help, and a tremendous staff. It’s been a lot of fun." He went on to win 2 more races on the same card including the Hutcheson Stakes with Thunder Moccasin.
An early beginning:
Todd Pletcher was born on June 27, 1967, in Dallas. His father Jake Pletcher trained Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses out west and Todd started working with him as a child. He went to college at the University of Arizona where he graduated in 1989 with a degree in Animal Science. During the summers he worked at the track and did his intership for the legendary Charlie Whittingham in California.
Studied with a master:
After he graduated, Pletcher started working as a foreman then later as an assistant for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. He was with Lukas for seven years and still does many things in the style of his mentor such as using white bridles and always wearing a fancy suit. He opened his own public stable in December 1995 and had his first winner in February 1996 with Majestic Number at Gulfstream Park.
Developing stakes winners:
His first big stakes winner was Jersey Girl who won the Astoria at Belmont Park, the first of many New York stakes wins for Pletcher. She went on to win seven consecutive stakes including three Grade Ones before having to retire due to injury. In 1998, he sent Archers Bay to Canada and took the first two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes, for owner Eugene Melnyk who he still trains for today. He finally won the Kentucky Derby in 2010 with WinStar Farm's Super Saver.
Championships and awards:
Pletcher has won many awards and championships in the last few years, including the 2004 and 2005 Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Trainer. He has owned the Saratoga meet for the last few years, taking the top trainer title six times including the last five years straight. He has won many trainer titles at New York tracks plus Keeneland title and Gulfstream Park. As of February 2012, he looked to be on his way to his 9th straight Gulfstream training title. Pletcher has been honored with five Eclipse Awards as outstanding trainer and has led the nation in purses on six occasions, including 2011 and 2012.
Grade One winners:
He has had many stakes winners over the years, but 2006 was a banner year with: Bishop Court Hill (Carter), Bluegrass Cat (Haskell) Circular Quay (Hopeful), English Channel (Woodford Reserve, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, United Nations), Fleet Indian (Beldame, Personal Ensign), Go Deputy (Sword Dancer), Honey Ryder (Flower Bowl), Magnificent Song (Garden City), Pool Land (Ruffian), Spun Sugar (Go For Wand, Apple Blossom), and Wait a While (American Oaks, Yellow Ribbon.) In 2011, his Grade 1 winners included: Her Smile, Awesome Maria, Buster's Ready, Hilda's Passion, and Stay Thirsty. You can view all his current stakes winners here
Breeders' Cup success:
His first placing in the Breeders' Cup was Chapel Royal who was third in the 2003 Juvenile then Ashado was second in the 2003 Juvenile Fillies. Pletcher won his first Breeders' Cup races in 2004 at Lone Star Park in his native Texas when Ashado took the Distaff and Speightstown took the Sprint. Through 2011, he has saddled six Breeders' Cup winners: Ashado (2004), English Channel (2007), More Than Real (2010), Pluck (2010), Speightstown (2004), and Uncle Mo (2010).
Eclipse Award Champions Trained:
Left Bank, 2002 Champion Older Male, became the first of Pletcher's Eclipse Award winners. So far, Pletcher has trained nine divisional champions: Rags to Riches, Ashado, English Channel, Left Bank, Uncle Mo, Lawyer Ron, Fleet Indian, Speightstown, and Wait a While.
Pletcher is married to Tracy and has two sons, Payton and Kyle, and a daughter, Hannah. They live in Garden City, New York.