Pletcher grabs record

OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- There are still things Todd Pletcher wants to accomplish in his training career. But on Thursday, the 38-year-old horseman achieved something no other trainer ever has.

When Spin Factor won the second race at Aqueduct, Pletcher set the single-year record for North American earnings by a trainer. The $24,600 first-place purse earned by Spin Factor for his maiden win pushed Pletcher's 2005 earnings to $19,150,856, edging him past Bobby Frankel's record of $19,147,129, set in 2003.

Later in the day, Pletcher began adding to his money record by winning the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs with Magna Graduate and finishing second in the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct with Bohemian Lady. By nightfall Friday, Pletcher's 2005 earnings reached $19,568,176 with five weeks remaining in the year. His 230 victories from 959 starts place him fourth in North America by wins.

Spin Factor was the seventh consecutive winner saddled by Pletcher since Wednesday. He scored an eighth straight victory when Terrific Storm won the seventh race at Churchill Downs. The streak ended when Holborn Circle finished seventh in the eighth race at Calder.

"It's hard always to put these things in perspective until later on," said Pletcher, a former D. Wayne Lukas assistant who has been on his own for 10 years. "Sometimes you appreciate those things more later on when you go back and try to do it again. It's been a great year; everything's clicked.

"I kind of thought about it a couple of months ago, but I thought we might have to win a Breeders' Cup race or two to make it happen," Pletcher added. "But when you're second in the [Breeders' Cup] Classic it's kind of like winning one or two other ones. It's been a great year and a credit to our whole staff."

Flower Alley finished second to Saint Liam in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Flower Alley also gave Pletcher his most significant win of the year, taking the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Pletcher has won nine Grade 1 races this year, including the Blue Grass Stakes with Bandini.

"We won a couple of races that you would always want to win that we hadn't won before," Pletcher said. "The Travers would certainly be the obvious one, but the Blue Grass also; winning that was big."

Pletcher also thought it was fitting that he broke the record with a horse owned by Anstu Stables. Stuart and Anita Subotnick, the proprietors of Anstu, were Pletcher's first clients when he went out on his own in 1996.

After Indian Vale won Thursday's Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs, Pletcher entered Friday trailing Frankel by $29,873. He had six runners on Friday - two each at Aqueduct, Calder, and Churchill Downs - and won four of the six races.

Pletcher wasted little time, as Acadiano won the opener at Calder, earning $9,000, and 30 minutes later Spin Factor won, earning $24,600.

The earnings record could propel Pletcher to his second consecutive Eclipse Award for North America's outstanding trainer. His main competition figures to come from Richard Dutrow Jr., who won two Breeders' Cup races, including the Classic with likely Horse of the Year Saint Liam.

"I'm not too worried about those kind of things, but any time you can do something that's never been done before, it's kind of extra special," Pletcher said. "But Dutrow's certainly had a great year as well."