In the days leading up to the 147th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1), usracing.com is profiling all the contenders. The 1 ¼-mile Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs is May 1 and is the first leg of the Triple Crown. All profiles will be updated with post positions, odds, and jockeys following the draw on Tuesday, April 27.
By Ed McNamara
The least experienced horse in Derby 147 has so much to overcome. It will be only his fourth start, his speed figures don’t measure up, and his only win was by a nose. On the plus side, he’s never run a bad race, finishing second by a head and a length in his other starts. He shapes up as a horse with potential who would be better off finding a much easier spot.
Sainthood qualified by earning 40 points in the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks over the synthetic surface at minor-league Turfway Park. With any luck, the 10-1 shot would have won. According to the Equibase chart’s footnotes, he had a “problematic trip” to the stretch before he “rallied in earnest for the place spot in a gallant effort.” So, he definitely has grit and talent, but the Derby looks like way too big an ask.
“He’s probably the least experienced of our group (of four). He took to the synthetic, but he was a little bit unlucky at Turfway,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, a two-time Derby winner. “He got a little bit of traffic and he was coming on best of all in the end, just couldn’t quite get there in time.”
Can he contend at 1 1/4 miles despite the quantum leap in class and the lack of experience? Strange things happen in the Derby, but I can’t see Sainthood being in the mix at the finish. If you insist on betting him, demand at least 30-1 odds, and that might be an underlay.
Post position: TBD
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owner: WinStar Farm, CHC Inc.
Career record: 3-1-2-0
Career earnings: $91,900
Derby qualifying points: 40 (No. 17)
Best Equibase speed figure: 93
Pedigree: Mshawish-Lemon Hero, by Lemon Drop Kid
Color: Dark bay
Running style: Front-runner/stalker
Notes: Pletcher, 53, won the Derby with Super Saver (2010) and Always Dreaming (2017), both times on wet tracks … His mentors were his father, J.J. Pletcher, and all-time great D. Wayne Lukas, who calls Todd “my adopted son.” Todd began his racetrack career at the age of 7 as a hotwalker for his father, who trained in the Midwest and Southwest. J.J. and Lukas have been friends since the 1960s … J.J. Pletcher operates Payton Training Center in Ocala, Florida, where he breaks many of the horses Todd trains. It’s named for Payton Pletcher, the oldest of Todd’s three children … Among the horses whose careers began there were Eclipse champions Left Bank, Wait a While and English Channel.
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.