NEW YORK -- Todd's Squad is headed to the Kentucky Derby in what could be record numbers.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will be a busy man on Derby day with five likely starters and perhaps a record-setting sixth once his game plan is finalized. Not bad for a guy who is 0 for 24 in the Derby and desperately seeking that elusive first victory.
Eskendereya is Pletcher's biggest star and the expected favorite for the Derby in less than two weeks. The 3-year-old colt romped to wins in the Fountain of Youth and the Wood Memorial and is ranked No. 1 in the AP's final Run to the Roses Top 10 list of Derby contenders.
Pletcher has two other Derby starters in the top 10: Louisiana Derby winner Mission Impazible at No. 5 and Arkansas Derby runner-up Super Saver at No. 7. His other Derby horses are Discreetly Mine and Rule, with the owners of Interactif "still on the fence."
Exhi gives Pletcher another option off his win in the Lexington Stakes on Saturday, but the colt may not have enough graded-stakes earnings to qualify if more than the maximum 20 horses are entered. Exhi is currently 24th on the list.
The record for starters in one Derby is five, shared by Pletcher (2007) and Hall of Famers Nick Zito (2005) and D. Wayne Lukas (1996). Only Lukas came through when Grindstone won in '96.
Lookin At Lucky, trained by three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert, held steady at No. 2, while the rest of the top 10 remained the same from a week ago.
Lookin At Lucky came into the Derby prep season as the No. 1 contender off his 2-year-old championship season. The colt then won the Rebel Stakes in his lone race on dirt -- the same surface as the Derby is run on -- and finished third behind Sidney's Candy and Setsuko in the Santa Anita Derby.
John Sadler returns to the Derby for only the second time with a strong hand. He trains No. 4 contender Sidney's Candy, winner of the San Vicente, San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby, as well as Line of David, surprise winner of the Arkansas Derby. In 1993, he saddled Corby to a sixth-place finish.
More than 20 horses are sure to be entered, and that means preference will be give to the leading earners in graded stakes.
Zito has two top-10 Derby horses in Florida Derby winner Ice Box (No. 3) and Wood runner-up Jackson Bend (No. 10), which is 21st on the earnings list.
On Saturday, the $200,000 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs could produce a Derby starter if Pleasant Prince (27th) or Eightyfiveinafifty finishes first and collects the winner's share of $120,000 to move into the top 20 earners.
Eskendereya worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.00 Saturday at Palm Meadows in Boynton Beach, Fla., and will be shipped to Louisville on Tuesday, along with Discreetly Mine, Mission Impazible and Rule. A final workout for the Derby favorite is scheduled for Sunday.
"That was all I was looking for," Pletcher said of Eskendereya's weekend workout. "He's a very fit horse, and I didn't want him to overdo it. I just wanted to see him get in a good five-furlong maintenance work and a strong gallop-out, and it went the way I expected."
1. Eskendereya (Todd Pletcher, trainer; John Velazquez, jockey): Best chance for Pletcher's first Derby win after romps in Fountain of Youth, Wood Memorial ... Heads to Kentucky this week ... Next start: Kentucky Derby (May 1, Churchill Downs, dirt) ... Derby future wager odds: 5-1.
2. Lookin At Lucky (Bob Baffert, Garrett Gomez): Baffert gunning for fourth Derby win with 2-year-old champion ... Rebel winner worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 at Churchill last week ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 9-2.
3. Ice Box (Nick Zito, Jose Lezcano): Florida Derby winner worked 4 furlongs in 48.40 at Churchill last week ... Zito looking for Derby win No. 3 ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 19-1.
4. Sidney's Candy (John Sadler, Joe Talamo): Sadler is new big name on Derby scene with his San Vicente, San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby winner ... Worked 5 furlongs in 59.80 Saturday at Churchill ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 22-1.
5. Mission Impazible (Pletcher, Rajiv Maragh): Louisiana Derby winner worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.25 Saturday at Palm Meadows ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 9-2 (mutuel field).
6. Awesome Act (Jeremy Noseda, Julien Leparoux): Gotham winner set for Tuesday workout at Churchill ... Trainer could be late arrival with volcanic ash keeping him in England ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 13-1.
7. Super Saver (Pletcher, Calvin Borel): Could be a super saver for Pletcher if Eskendereya doesn't fire ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 35-1.
8. American Lion (Eoin Harty, David Flores): Front-running colt could surprise off Illinois Derby win ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 9-2 (mutuel field)
9. Line of David (Sadler, Jon Court): Arkansas Derby win made it 3 for 3 with blinkers on for second Sadler entry ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 9-2 (mutuel field).
10. Jackson Bend (Zito, Borel): The wait to get in the field is on for Wood runner-up ... Ranks 21st on latest graded stakes earnings list ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 46-1.
Keep and eye on: Conveyance, Dean's Kitten, Dublin, Endorsement, Stately Victor.