Todd Pletcher has worked his Arkansas Derby magic once again, this time in the most unexpected fashion.
The six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer added to his record haul at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, earning his fourth win in the Derby thanks to a surprising win by long-shot Danza on Saturday (Sunday AEST).
The colt, named after actor Tony Danza, went off at 40-1 in the 1-1/8th-mile (1700m) lead-up to the Kentucky Derby, pulling away in the home straight to shock a star-packed field.
“We’ve had good fortune there, good luck,” Pletcher said. “It’s always been a favourite track of mine since I was a teenager. I’ve got a lot of fond memories of Oaklawn.”
His performance earned Danza 100 points in the Kentucky Derby standings and put him sixth in the order of entry for the big race at Churchill Downs on May 3 but Pletcher was not quite ready to say if he would run.
The trainer had two Arkansas runners with 5-1 chance Commissioner agitated before the race in which he finished sixth.
“We’re not quite sure if both are going to run, but the plane is headed to Kentucky,” Pletcher said.
Jockey Jo Bravo hopes Danza does take his place.
“Everything unfolded like a dream,” he said.
“It’s really fun to have a special horse like that and have him run like that.
I’m not a fortune teller, but hopefully, in a couple of weeks we can do that again. I’m crossing my fingers he’s my Derby horse. This is what dreams are made of.”