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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Pletcher Says Time Is Right for Carpe Diem


Todd Pletcher says the decision to enter Carpe Diem in the Tampa Bay Derby was mainly about timing.

“It was never etched in stone,” he said, "but from a timing standpoint, it seemed to be the race that would be the best fit for when he would be ready to run.”

Pletcher will aim for his third Tampa Bay Derby victory with the runaway winner of the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity and Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up.
Pletcher said Carpe Diem has been training superbly at his Palm Beach Downs base. His most recent of seven 2015 published workouts – all spaced seven days apart – was a four-furlong breeze Saturday in :49.57.

“His works have been very impressive. He has looked super in the mornings, and we are looking forward to him getting started again,” Pletcher said. “After the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he went back to Kentucky for a little bit of a holiday at WinStar. He has been training very well, and hopefully thisi is the first step to bigger things to come."

While Carpe Diem’s name and reputation are well-known among Thoroughbred racing followers, that wasn’t the case in 2010 for a WinStar Farm-bred and owned colt Pletcher sent to Oldsmar to begin his 3-year-old campaign.

“The Tampa Bay Derby is a race that has served as a good prep for us over the years,” said Pletcher, who used it with Super Saver in 2010. His 14 Tampa Bay Derby participants also include Limehouse, the 2004 winner; Bluegrass Cat, second in 2006; Any Given Saturday, second in 2007; and Verrazano, the winner in 2013.

Pletcher said he's not concerned that it will be Carpe Diem's first race over the surface. The back story is that Carpe Diem has run well at three tracks in three starts. His poorest performance was his second in the Juvenile.

“I think it took him a while to get adjusted to the kickback, and by the time he got untracked it was too late, but he finished impressively,” Pletcher said. “I don’t think the different surface will be an issue for him. He seems to train well and run well everywhere he goes, and we hope that trend continues Saturday.”

Nothing comes easy racing for $350,000, but Carpe Diem’s task became tougher with the late addition to the field of Ocean Knight when owner Barabara Banke decided not to send him to New York for the Gotham Stakses. Her Stonestreet Stable also owns an interest in Carpe Diem.

“I know she had been trying to keep the two horses split up, but the weather got in the way,” Pletcher said. “It doesn’t matter to us. We’re very pleased with the way our horse has been preparing, and you expect to run against nice horses in these kind of races.”

Edited Tampa Bay Downs release with additional content by Dick Downey


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