The Leopard gives record to Pletcher

Hollywood Park, 5th Race - Nov. 23, 2007

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- A trio of stakes wins across the nation on Friday, ending with The Leopard's victory in the $111,800 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park, gave trainer Todd Pletcher a single-season North American earnings record of $26,850,873.

With five weeks left in the year, and the stable operating in California, Florida, and New York, Pletcher is likely to go well past the previous mark of $26,820,243, set in 2006.

Pletcher's stable earned $585,612 on Friday, a day highlighted by Mini Sermon's win in the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct, A.P. Arrow's upset in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, and The Leopard's victory in the Grade 3 Generous Stakes.

Pletcher won allowance races with Game Face at Aqueduct and Terrific Storm at Churchill Downs.

"It's a real team effort," Pletcher said from Churchill Downs. "It's a microcosm of what our stable can do when you're striking on all fronts. It's a great accomplishment for the whole team."

Pletcher's 2007 total does not include $460,000 in purses earned on the Dubai World Cup program in March.

Among his biggest wins this year have been English Channel's score in the Breeders' Cup Turf and Rags to Riches's wins in the Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Oaks. The milestone is all the more remarkable this year since Pletcher was not the trainer of record for his stable from Jan. 1 through Feb. 10 while serving a suspension. His barn's earnings from that period do not count toward the record total.

The Leopard has been responsible for $173,700 of Pletcher's earnings this year. Owned by Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Michael Tabor, The Leopard won his second stakes, and first at the graded level, in the Generous.

Ridden by Garrett Gomez, who scored his record-extending 72nd North American stakes win of 2007, The Leopard rallied from fifth on the backstretch to win the Generous by 2 1/4 lengths over Indian Sun, who was making his stakes debut.

Meer Kat, a recent import from England, closed from last in a field of nine to finish third.

The Leopard ($3.60) ran a mile on turf in 1:34.28.

"I thought he got a good trip," Pletcher said. "We were a little worried about the outside post, but we were able to get a good position. It looked like when Garrett shook him up at the eighth pole, he really responded."

The Leopard was making his first start since finishing seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf over a yielding turf course at Monmouth Park on Oct. 26. Earlier this year, he won his turf debut in the Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park.

"When we were able to work him on grass, and particularly on firm ground, he really took to it," Pletcher said.

Despite The Leopard's success on turf, Pletcher said he may run him in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity over the synthetic main track at Hollywood Park on Dec. 22.

"We won't rule it out," Pletcher said. "I'll be anxious to see how he trains on the Cushion Track."