SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Under normal circumstances, a workout in the second week of August for a top 3-year-old at Saratoga would mean continued preparation for the Runhappy Travers (G1). But 2020 has changed schedules across the sporting landscape, with the Travers having already been contested on August 8. Instead, St. Elias Stable’s Dr Post will continue on the Saratoga work tab with a potential spot in the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1) on September 5 serving as a target for the Todd Pletcher trainee.
Dr Post, who was the runner-up to Tiz the Law (the subsequent Travers [G1] winner) in the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 20, ran third in the Haskell (G1) on July 18 at Monmouth Park. The Quality Road colt registered his first work since that effort on August 7, going 4 furlongs in 50.55 over the Spa’s main track. Pletcher said he is slated to work again Friday morning.
“He’s doing well and we expect him to go out tomorrow and we’ll continue to monitor how he trains,” Pletcher said.
Dr Post has accumulated 80 qualifying points for the “Run for the Roses” with $331,035 in non-restricted stakes earnings, putting him eighth on the leaderboard for what once again could be the Derby’ famed full 20-horse field.
Since running fourth in his debut in July 2019 at Belmont, Dr Post has finished on the board in his last four starts, including a maiden breaking win in his sophomore bow on March 29 at Gulfstream Park before winning the Unbridled at 1 1/16 miles on April 25 at the same track.
“We’ll check in with the owners and figure out a game plan,” Pletcher said. “The Derby is in play for sure. We’re happy with the way he’s going, so we’ll see how the next couple of weeks go.”
Pletcher holds the record for most all-time starters in the Derby with 54. Since saddling his first in 2000, Pletcher has won the prestigious race twice, first with Super Saver in 2010 and most recently with Always Dreaming in 2017. He has finished second twice and third on four occasions, and his total number of starts is five more than the next-closest competitor in Hall of Famer and Pletcher mentor D. Wayne Lukas (49 starters).
Despite his history in the Derby, Pletcher is in the same situation as his fellow conditioners, as the Derby will be held as the middle jewel of the Triple Crown instead of the opener to accommodate the revised schedule for 3-year-olds in training that saw the Belmont Stakes serve as the first leg of the American Classic series for the first time ever two months ago.
“This time of year, you’re usually focused on the Travers that would be coming up in a week or so,” Pletcher said. “It’s been an unusual year all the way around. The training itself is the same, but when we’d normally have the sales, a lot of the visitors we’d normally have has decreased.”