Horse Racing

Todd Pletcher Trainer Profile: Pletcher Has Three Chances to Win His Fifth Belmont Stakes

FanDuel Staff
FanDuel Staff
Todd Pletcher Trainer Profile: Pletcher Has Three Chances to Win His Fifth Belmont Stakes

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has been running horses under his own name since 1996, and since then, he has become one of the most successful and best-known trainers in horse racing. Over that time, he has won over 5,700 horse races, with over $484 million in purse earnings. He has won the Eclipse Award for outstanding trainer eight times, most recently in 2022.

Todd Pletcher is best known for his classy dirt horses, particularly dirt routers. That includes runners of all ages. He has won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile four times, most recently with Eclipse Award winner Fierceness in 2023. He has won the Kentucky Derby twice, and the Kentucky Oaks four times. He can shine with older horses, as well: he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic with Vino Rosso, his all-time highest-earning dirt horse, in 2019. He has won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff twice as well.

However, Pletcher’s stars have not been all dirt routers. His highest earner to date has been 2007 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner English Channel, the only horse to earn over $5 million while racing for him. And, though many of his highest-profile horses have gone long, he won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint with breed-shaping sire Speightstown.

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Todd Pletcher in Triple Crown Races

Given his fame with long-distance dirt horses, it is no surprise Pletcher has a long and storied history in the Triple Crown. Pletcher is based at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course most of the year, so it is no surprise that his best record in Triple Crown races comes in the Belmont Stakes. He has some real highlights in the Kentucky Derby as well. On the other hand, though he has raced a few horses in the Preakness, the second jewel of the Triple Crown is rarely a part of his roadmap.

Kentucky Derby

Over his career, Pletcher has run more horses in the Kentucky Derby than any other trainer: 65, as of 2024. He has won the Run for the Roses twice. His first victory came in 2010 with Super Saver, and Pletcher earned his second win in 2017 with Always Dreaming. Six of his other runners have hit the board in the Derby, most recently Audible, who ran third in 2018.

Preakness Stakes

Interestingly enough, the Preakness Stakes fits into Pletcher’s Triple Crown plans far less often than the first or last jewels of the Triple Crown. He has only run ten horses in the Preakness throughout his training career, and he has been absent from the race since Unbridled Honor ran sixth in 2021. His best finish came with his first Preakness runner: Impeachment, who ran third in 2000.

Belmont Stakes

Pletcher has become almost synonymous with New York racing in recent decades, with good horses based on the New York Racing Association circuit all year long. That makes it no surprise that his best record in any Triple Crown race comes in the Belmont Stakes.

Across 37 starters in the Test of the Champion, Pletcher has won the race four times. His first winner was the great filly Rags to Riches, who beat Curlin by a head in 2007 and became only the third filly to win the Belmont Stakes. His other winners include Palace Malice in 2013, Tapwrit in 2017, and Mo Donegal in 2022.

Todd Pletcher in the 2024 Belmont Stakes

Pletcher has three entrants in the 2024 Belmont Stakes. Those include the short-priced but inexperienced Mindframe, Peter Pan (G3) winner Antiquarian, and Peter Pan third-place finisher Protective.


The Peter Pan (G3), run at Aqueduct this year while Belmont Park is under construction, has become an important local prep for the Belmont Stakes. The Peter Pan produced 2023 Belmont Stakes winner for trainer Jena Antonucci, and Pletcher hopes the race’s form will hold well again in the final leg of the Triple Crown with Antiquarian.

Antiquarian won the Peter Pan in just his fourth career start, his second in stakes company. After breaking his maiden at Fair Grounds at second asking, he was routed straight to the Louisiana Derby (G2). He acted up before the race and flattened out late to finish sixth, though he was beaten only four lengths by winner Catching Freedom.

That took him off the Derby trail, but the Peter Pan ended up being the perfect spot. He stalked the pace, made an inside run in the lane, and won by ¾ lengths over The Wine Steward, a horse who had already run the likes of Locked and Encino to close finishes in graded-stakes races.

Antiquarian’s tactical speed should be an asset in the Belmont Stakes. And, the stretch out to 1 ¼ miles should be right up his alley. After all, he is by Preservationist—a long-winded dirt horse also owned by Centennial Farms, who owns Antiquarian—out of a mare from a family with a lot of turf route class down her pedigree page. He will have to move forward from a speed perspective, but with his stamina pedigree and the fact that he comes in second off the lay, there’s a good enough chance of that to make him interesting at the price.


The shortest price of the Pletcher trio in the 2024 Belmont Stakes, Mindframe makes just his third career start in the Belmont Stakes. He is downright untested so far: both of his starts so far have been blowout victories, but they came in maiden and first-level allowance company.

He has shown some positive in those two starts to date. He broke his maiden by 13 ¾ lengths in a seven-furlong maiden sprint at Gulfstream in a stalking style, and then won his 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Churchill Downs by 7 ½ lengths, gate to wire. So, he has proven he can either take the initiative up front or pass a few horses—and he did both of those things with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the saddle. Ortiz returns for the Belmont Stakes.

The win at Churchill also shows he isn’t just a Gulfstream Park horse, which is always a risk when a horse impresses in South Florida. Furthermore, he ran both of those races in fast enough fashion to show that, on his best, he is just as fast as any of these more experienced foes.

As for the stretch out to 1 ¼ miles, it’s not a slam dunk but it’s worth a shot. He is by Constitution, a son of Belmont super-sire Tapit who won the Florida Derby (G1) for Todd Pletcher during his racing career. His female family skews a little more middle-distance than true route, though damsire Street Sense should be a positive influence stamina-wise.

In short, Mindframe has a lot of upside for the Belmont Stakes, and it makes sense that Pletcher entered him here. However, given the experience he cedes to one of the deepest and saltiest Belmont Stakes fields in recent years, he will have to drift up some from his morning line before he can be considered real betting value.


The longest shot of the Todd Pletcher trio, Protective comes into the Belmont Stakes after a third-place finish in the Peter Pan, two lengths behind stablemate Antiquarian. It was his second straight credible third-place finish in a graded-stakes race; as two back, he overcame a rough start, rallied from near last, and finished third in the Wood Memorial (G2) behind Resilience.

Protective also has some form to show over the dirt at Saratoga Race Course, where the Belmont Stakes will be run this year. On debut, he rallied from far off the pace early to finish second, beaten only ¾ length, in a six-furlong maiden special weight. Six furlongs was probably never going to be Protective’s bailiwick anyway: he is by Medaglia d’Oro out of the Grade 1-winning Empire Maker mare Grace Hall. Even though Grace Hall’s Grade 1 win came in the seven-furlong Spinaway, she trained on to be a graded-stakes-quality two-turn horse. In short, Protective has a rock-solid pedigree for distance on the dirt.

However, there’s an elephant in the room: Protective is still a maiden. He is a maiden with some stakes experience, and he is a maiden who has run fast enough to suggest that, if he shows up on his best, he could get a piece of the money. But, it would be a surprise to see him get his diploma in the Belmont Stakes.

To see 2024 Belmont Stakes post positions and individual horse odds, read more at FanDuel Research.

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