Annapolis with Iran Ortiz Jr u up wins the 2022 Coolmore Turf Mile for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Bass racing, 2022 Keeneland Fall Meet

One of the key ingredients to success in the sporting world is performing at the right time. Since it is post-season time in baseball we are going to use an analogy with the grand old game and the wonderful sport of Thoroughbred racing as we spotlight a noteworthy accomplishment in the sport of kings.

We all know hitting a home run is special. Doing it with guys on base is even better. And if you can do it when things are really on the line it becomes a “WOW” moment. We’ve used the Bucky Dent example before. Here’s a guy that played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues and hit 40 home runs in his career. Nobody remembers 39 of them. But that one dinger people do remember is the blast in the 1978 one-game playoff with the Boston Red Sox which kept the curse of the Bambino alive. So what’s the point?… Stepping up at crunch time makes for meaningful memories. And oh by the way Dent stayed hot and earned MVP honors in the ’78 World Series as the Yanks were victorious.

Thoroughbred racing is on the fast track toward the Breeders’ Cup and their world championships. October 8 and 9 offered up some “Win and You’re in” races, all of the grade 1 variety. A trip to the winner’s circle in these events guarantees you a spot in the Cup race for the associated division, but more importantly, it means your horse is peaking at the right time.

Todd Pletcher is certainly no Bucky Dent. The mastermind of one of the sport’s most powerful barns, the New York-based conditioner saddles winners with regularity. Like many of the heavy hitters in the game, he was sending his talent to post with eyes on that Breeders’ Cup prize. Ona big weekend like this with lots of competition, launching a solo shot is nice, a two-run tater is a heck yeah, a three-run dong amazing, and a grand salami is virtually unheard of.

So here was the Texas-native preparing runners at both Keeneland and Aqueduct while he pine-tarred his Louisville Slugger. In an amazing display of horsemanship, Pletcher saw four of his runners come home first in four grade 1 events over a two-day span. Forte got things started with a gutsy win in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futirity at Keeneland on October 8. Annapolis followed that up with a powerful score in the Coolmore Turf Mile at Keeneland against a very deep and talented field. The next day, Nest continued to look like the best three-year-old in training as she easily defeated older horses by 9 3/4 lengths in the Beldame at Aqueduct. Capping things off was Malathaat as she looked like a boss in winning the Juddmonte Spinster at Keeneland by a widening 5 1/4 lengths.

With the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland on November 4 and 5, the timing of Pletcher’s grade 1 grand salami couldn’t have come at a better time for his stable. The competition will be even tougher, but having a hot bat in the lineup is never a bad thing, especially this time of year.