Todd Pletcher: The Other Side of the Story

Meet Todd Pletcher, Thoroughbred trainer. 5-time Eclipse winner, 10-time top guy at Saratoga, 7-time highest American earner (over $250 million lifetime), Mr. Pletcher also owns a Kentucky Derby and a pair of Belmont Stakes trophies. Raised around tracks and tutored by the legendary D. Wayne Lukas, the smart and business-savvy Pletcher seems well on his way to the Hall of Fame. Yet amid all the accolades, another part of his story needs telling.

Todd_Pletcher

In August 2004, the Pletcher-trained Tales of Glory tested positive for Class 2 mepivacaine after a win in Saratoga. He was suspended 45 days.

After an October 2008 BC race, his Wait a While was found to have more than 300 times the allowable limit of Class 3 procaine in her system. In defense, Mr. Pletcher, through his vet, said the “overage” came from a weeks-old granuloma (which formed after treating a fever) that ruptured and released the trapped drug during the race. The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) practically called this ridiculous. More likely, it said, Wait a While was given another shot(s) of procaine closer to raceday, perhaps within 48 hours. But since there was no proof that Pletcher ordered or knew of it (imagine that), he was handed a 10-day suspension. Wait a While, then 5, never ran again. Final fate unknown.

In February 2010, two of Pletcher’s horses (Obligingly, Quality Road) tested positive for omeprazole sulfide at Gulfstream Park. He was “reprimanded.” On February 25th, 2012, Pletcher’s 4-year-old Coronado Heights, who had been diagnosed with early degenerative joint disease, broke down at Aqueduct and was subsequently killed. The New York Times ran this graphic on the multiple injections administered to Coronado Heights the week before his death.

In its report on the 2008 incident, the CHRB said: “It is impossible to overstate the damage that drug violations in Breeders’ Cup races can do to the integrity of the sport of thoroughbred horse racing. This is no longer the 1930’s when the Sport of Kings seemed invincible.” But on the other hand, Mr. Pletcher has had “a stellar 15 year career.” Verdict: 10 days. Anyone who still asserts that horse welfare – genuine concern for the equines beyond their ability to race – is an industry priority is either dishonest or delusional.

10 Comments

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  1. You can’ not win on the up and up ? How ******* sad. Big man is in the dirt really. What happened to fair racing? What about the animals, they don’t count On big A hole you are in a pretty $ suit, means nothing, it can not cover up the wrong.

  2. I take umbrage with the fact that you wrote this without checking and finding out that Wait a While is now a broodmare. Thoroughbred Pedigree query is a good resource for you. You should research before you try to slant your article. I am in no way defending Todd Pletcher who I do NOT admire.

      • Good question, Rose!…and most folks know the answer! Old man Keith Asmussen knows the answer to this one because he sent a group of his broodmares there! – to the kill buyer-attended auction! Freaking loser….

    • Ms. Esposito, just to clear up confusion on your part, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that the majority of broodmares, once their producing days are over, are sent to auctions or are picked up by kill buyers who have contracts with the plants. Mr. Fred Bauer, who is one of the biggest CONTRACT kill buyers in the Midwest, told me that his men make a weekly trip through Kentucky picking up horses that have been discarded by their owners. Sick and sad, but it is just another reality to the disgusting industry of horseracing.

      I have said for years and years that racing’s motto is “Drug them and run them”. No one, who is even somewhat familiar with racing, can dispute that statement. Another motto is “Dump the ones that can’t produce revenue”. Barren broodmares can’t produce, can they, Ms. Esposito? Where do you think all those sweet mares go when their foal bearing days are over? To your barn? I doubt it…

      Oh, and didn’t Ms. Donna Keen take up for Keith ASSmussen? I guess Keen believed Keith when he said he didn’t realize that most horses run through auctions go to slaughter. If Keen would only open her eyes….!

  3. But Joy, he did not know the auction was frequented by kill buyers !!! These people are soo deceitful they only tell the truth by accident !

    I do remember one of the mares rescued from the auction was Luxury of Time. Also, some of the mares dumped at the auction were reported to be in foal. What sorry excuse for a human would do that to his mares. I guess the answer is people like Keith Asmussen in the breeding business !

  4. Since this posting there have been multiple racehorses (ROCK FALL, ZAMJARA, STRADIVARI) suffer career-ending, and catastrophic breakdowns under this serial racehorse killers care. I use this term because this Trainer, and other top name Trainers such as Doug O’Neill, have many horses maimed or killed under their care. They accurately fit the description of a serial killer only the victim is a racehorse, but the pathology is very similar.
    Supporters repeatedly claim that their “intentions” are good – really?
    There is a distinct pattern here. Doping regimes ending in racehorses losing their lives. They know this. They are aware of this. Yet, the pattern continues so their intentions can’t be considered good when they know the potential outcome. Same goes to the owners who send their horses to them.
    Many owners often sign carte blanche contracts that shield/protect top name Trainers from legal repercussions if their racehorse dies while under their care. This is precisely why they have never been sued or held responsible for the racehorses who die in their care.
    Any owner who subjects their racehorse to the ongoing brutality of these Trainers can’t possibly “love” them as they claim.
    Moreover, any owner who subjects the horse they “love” to the brutality of these business practices (whoever the Trainer) can’t love the horse – they only love what they are getting from them.
    There are thousands of horse owners across the country that pamper their horses, and don’t expect any type of profit from them whatsoever.
    They provide, and go beyond the basic care of the horse so the horse racing industry doesn’t have a monopoly on treating horses good.
    They do, however, have a monopoly on racehorses dying in the dirt.
    Here’s an article
    http://www.thoroughbreddailynews.com/pdf/magazine/Magazine-Drugs%20in%20Racing-Part%20II.pdf

    It shows the actual document of drugs given to CORONADO HEIGHTS (another one who lost their life under this serial horse killers care). It’s pathetic. Scroll down to page 4 to read all the dope given to this horse.
    Of course James Hunt the DVM for Pletcher that makes tons of money doping up these racehorses, in true fashion, ensured that he stated “no pre-existing injuries.”
    Well if there were no “pre-existing injuries,” then why was all this dope being given?
    Does the name James Hunt sound familiar?
    He was the vet giving endless injections to Steve Asmussen’s racehorses on the PETA video. He also confirmed that Lasix is a performance enhancing drug.
    There’s a pattern here to the extent that these multiple drug violating Trainers who have racehorses die under their care use the SAME VET to dope the horses.
    Like I’ve stated before it’s a well-organized ring of doping, winning, and/or dying.
    The racehorses are nothing more than disposable commodities, and the owners who send their horses into this drug, and death den are equally responsible.

    • Thank you for the link Gina, These articles were very interesting to read! We had been no doubt been riding doped up horses from1983 until 2004 when we left the race track because of disgust over horses treatment. Good grief, thoroughbreds have PLENTY of go without resorting to medications. We feel fortunate to have escaped from the industry with only ONE major injury. We now realize many horses we rode in the 1980`s were no doubt hopped up at the county tracks we used to gallop at. The owners we later found out while working at a marina had been conducting UNSANCTIONED races that dozens of people would bet on. Sundays when we supposedly were just accustoming the horses breaking from the gate. The horses were actually being bet on!!! We found this out later as a marina boat launcher complained to us how he had lost lots of monies betting on the horses we rode. Little did anyone know those horses we trained were BOMBPROOF as many times we had to ride to town to get fuel for the track tractor so as to work up training surface. We used a small 2.5 gallon can for the fuel. The1/2 mile county training track was not to hard to work up and the old John Deere tractor was easy on gas. We also used to go to the grocery too for food for ourselves which we would bring back in sacks slung alongside the saddle.

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