Jack Milton propels Pletcher to top of all-time earnings list with G3 Poker win
By Jon Forbes | 05/26/2014 06:46 PM ET
Jack Milton pushed six-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Todd Pletcher to the top of the North American all-time earnings list on Monday with an emphatic 2 ¾-length victory in the Grade 3, $300,000 Poker on Belmont Park's Widener turf course.
With Jack Milton's Poker win, Pletcher's starters have earned $268,512,294, just over $45,000 more than his former boss, Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, for whom he worked as an assistant from 1991-95. Through Monday's racing, Lukas' starters have earned $268,467,262.
In addition, Pletcher swept all three stakes on the Memorial Day card at Belmont, also taking the $100,000 Jersey Girl with Red Velvet and $200,000 Pennine Ridge with Gala Award.
"I think [setting the record is] a product of inflation, to be honest, and I don't think anybody is going to match Wayne's accomplishments in this business," said Pletcher. "That said, it's still a satisfying milestone for the team and a record to be proud of."
Stepping up in class off an optional claiming win and seeking his second graded stakes victory in his career, Jack Milton trailed the field of six through an opening quarter-mile of 22.57 seconds set by free-running Peace and Justice and remained well off the pace through a half in 45.45. Jockey Javier Castellano tipped Jack Milton off the rail with three-eighths to travel, and the 4-year-old swooped to the lead in upper stretch and promptly ran away to a clear victory. Big Screen finished second, two lengths clear of third-place finisher and 4-5 favorite Za Approval.
Jack Milton completed on mile in 1:33.09 and returned $7.70 for a $2 win wager as the 5-2 second choice.
"My horse had a perfect trip," said Castellano. "There was a lot of speed in the race so he was able to settle and make a run. The firm turf was perfect for him."
The Poker marked Jack Milton's first graded stakes win since his triumph in the 2013 Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland. Following the Transylvania, Jack Milton was third in four straight races: the Penn Mile at Penn National, the Grade 2 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs, the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington Park, and the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park.
Jack Milton, who is owned by Gary Barber, concluded his 2013 campaign with a sixth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in December at Hollywood Park before opening his 2014 account with a three-length optional claiming score on May 1 at Churchill Downs.
"He knocked on the door several times in some nice races last year, so it's gratifying to see him win a big one," said Pletcher. "He certainly deserves it. I think he has improved as a 4-year-old, and he settled well today and gave a powerful kick. I think the mile distance suits him well, and we'll look at stepping him up a notch, maybe in a Grade 1 down the road."
Jack Milton, a son of War Front, is 4-1-4 in 10 starts. He has earned $505,900 to date, including $180,000 for his Poker victory.
Plainview, Sinatra, and Peace and Justice completed the order of finish. Bio Pro, originally coupled with Jack Milton, was scratched.