When the Kentucky Derby rolls around on the first Saturday in May, there are high hopes that a star will emerge and become one of the sport's best athletes in a business that so desperately needs them. This year, Super Saver, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Calvin Borel, took center stage as he rolled to a 2 1/2-length victory over the fast closing Ice Box.
But, in a matter of 14 days, those hopes faded very quickly. In fact, since May 1, Super Saver has become one of racing's biggest disappointments. In the Preakness, he followed the Derby win with an eighth place finish after being in second place during the early part of the race. Pletcher decided to skip the Belmont and wait for the two big summer races for the three-year-olds, the Haskell and Travers.
In the Haskell, Super Saver looked like he might be coming around as he ran fourth to Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky. But on Saturday, Super Saver regressed again and beat only one horse in the Travers as he finished 10th in the 11-horse field.
After the race, Todd Pletcher had little explanation.
"We were tracking in a good, fast spot but just came up empty."
In fact, Super Saver never was closer than eighth at any time during the race which saw a stirring stretch run as Afleet Express nosed out Fly Down.
To add insult to injury, Ice Box, the Derby runner-up has finished ninth, sixth and eighth since the "Run for the Roses." In fact, he finished nearly 14 lengths ahead of Super Saver in Saturday's Travers despite running eighth.
What's next for Super Saver? Your guess is as good as mine. He has one more shot at redemption in November when the Breeders' Cup returns to Churchill Downs, assuming Pletcher decides to tackle the best horses in the world.
If Super Saver could find a way to knock off stars such as Blame, Quality Road (who is also trained by Pletcher) and the undefeated filly Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic, a lot of his luster would be restored but otherwise, the Derby winner will join a long list of "one hit wonders."