By Dick Downey
Updated 4:29 p.m. ET
Danza is being shipped to Churchill Downs on Sunday, the day after his upset win of the Arkansas Derby.
“We’re pretty excited. We were stepping out a bit,” Pletcher said. “The horse always ran well and trained well. We felt we had one shot to put ourselves possibly in a position to get to Churchill. We were quietly expecting a good race, but, without a doubt, that exceeded everyone’s hopes and expectations.”
Pletcher said he understands why fans were surprised at the outcome of the race.
“I’m sure right after the race most people did what I would have done if I were on the outside looking in – grabbed the past performances and said, ‘Look at this horse!’” he said. “When you look at it now, you see a horse that won his maiden impressively first time out at Belmont, just missed in a flying finish in the Saratoga Special and ran a better-than-it-looked third in an allowance race at Gulfstream.”
Pletcher said on Sunday that Danza would ship from Oaklawn Park to Churchill Downs later in the day.
Pletcher said that firm plans have yet to be made regarding riders on all his Derby horses.
“We have Javier on Constitution, and we’re in the process of firming everything else up,” Pletcher said. “I’ll talk to Aaron Wellman from Eclipse, but I imagine they’ll ride Joe Bravo back (on Danza).”