Todd Pletcher during his time on an Arcadia recreation basketball league in 1980. (Kurt Hoover)
’s connections to Southern California aren’t very strong, but he did spend a short time in Arcadia when his father was training at Santa Anita.
Pletcher, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, ended up playing basketball on a team named the Trailblazers in an Arcadia recreation league in 1980.
“I was out there for one semester,” Pletcher said. “When you are at a new school, it’s a tough situation. This was a good way to meet people and get involved.”
He was living near Arcadia Junior High School but because of a fire he had to go to Foothill Junior High.
Seniors on the Arcadia High basketball team were encouraged to coach in the seventh- and eighth-grade leagues. The assistant coach on the Trailblazers was Kurt Hoover, now a TVG host and analyst.
Here’s where the story varies.
“He was an all right player,” said Hoover, who admitted to a memory that’s a little fuzzy. “Actually he was a pretty decent player. All I really said to him was ‘Pletcher go in’ or ‘Pletcher come out.’ ”
Pletcher rebuts that.
“I remember I wasn’t very good,” Pletcher said. “I didn’t score very many points. Aside from that I don’t remember a lot.”
One thing they both agree on is the Trailblazers were not very good. They finished last in the four-team league with a 3-12 record.
Must have been the coaching.
Not so sure bets
It’s no secret that you can bet on just about anything nowadays. Here are some proposition and parlay bets being offered by SportsBettingDime.
The idea that Always Dreaming will win the Triple Crown is at a very low 3-1. The over/under on the winning time is 1:56. And you can get 40-1 odds that the Preakness winner will break Secretariat’s mark of 1:53.
Now, if you plan to watch the race on television, the over/under on how many times “West Point” is mentioned is 4.5. Always Dreaming’s co-owner Vincent Viola went to school there. Gunnevera’s purchase price of $16,000 is at 2.5. And the number of times the phrases “keep dreaming” or “keep the dream alive” is used in reference to Always Dreaming is a whopping 7.5.
And from bizzaro-land, the odds that Always Dreaming wins and President Trump finishes his first term is 9/5. An Almost Dreaming-Trump gets impeached double is at 9-1.
Brendan Walsh, the trainer of Illinois Derby winner Multiplier, isn’t concerned about the horse getting the rail in the post-position draw.
“I don’t think it’s going to make that much of a difference with 10 runners,” Walsh said, while pointing out he won the Illinois Derby from the one.
Multiplier started his career at Fair Grounds, winning his third race before shipping to Hawthorne Race Course, near Chicago.
The horse does not have early speed.
“If the pace is slow, he’ll be closer,” Walsh said. “If not, he’ll be a ways farther back. He’ll come running at the end. I’m sure of that. He’s a fresh horse again.”
The Illinois Derby was four weeks ago.
West Coast hope
The only California-based horse in the Preakness is Term of Art, a 30-1 morning-line longshot for Doug O’Neill.
O’Neill has left the horse in the care of assistant trainer Sabas Rivera. O’Neill, who won the Preakness with I’ll Have Another, isn’t coming in until late Friday.
Term of Art galloped 1¼ miles on Thursday.
“The rider [Johnny Garcia] said he felt good,” Rivera said. “He handled the track very well. He wasn’t breathing hard.”
Term of Art’s best chance for a paycheck is to pass a lot of tired horses in the stretch.