Corniche Triumphs Again: Amsterdam Welcomes the Sensational Sophomore Return

Todd Pletcher Aims for Father-Son Connection with Corniche

In the world of horse racing, bloodlines and lineage often play a crucial role. Trainers and owners strive to replicate the success of previous champions through their offspring. This is precisely what Todd Pletcher hopes to achieve with Corniche, a promising three-year-old colt. In an attempt to kickstart Corniche’s sophomore season on a positive note, Pletcher has chosen the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes as the horse’s season debut.

Undefeated Record and Champion Status

Corniche, the reigning Champion 2-Year-Old, boasts an impressive undefeated record. Last year, he demonstrated his talents by winning two Grade 1 races: the American Pharoah Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. These victories solidified Corniche’s reputation and earned him the prestigious Eclipse Award as the Champion 2-Year-Old. Despite his success, he has not raced for almost eight months.

Controversy Surrounding Trainer Bob Baffert

It’s worth noting that the Eclipse voters who awarded Corniche the Champion 2-Year-Old title were not entirely focused on his trainer, Bob Baffert. At the time of the vote, Baffert had become embroiled in the Medina Spirit/Kentucky Derby betamethasone controversy. As a result, some voters expressed their unwillingness to support any horses trained by Baffert. Nonetheless, Corniche’s exceptional performances spoke for themselves, reaffirming his status as a deserving champion.

Corniche’s Future Wager Popularity

Given Corniche’s remarkable track record, he quickly became a favorite among those who engage in future wagering for the Kentucky Derby. Punters placed bets on Corniche, making him the top choice in the early Derby future odds for 2022. With odds of +1350 at Circa and +600 at Caesars/William Hill, his potential was highly regarded. However, after his January workouts failed to impress his connections, they decided to prioritize his well-being over his Triple Crown ambitions. Corniche was sent to WinStar Farm in Kentucky, where he spent the winter and spring, gradually regaining his form.

A Shift in Trainer and Preparations

Following Bob Baffert’s 90-day suspension, Corniche’s owners, KC Weiner and Peter Fluor, decided to transfer the young colt to Todd Pletcher’s barn. Pletcher, a highly respected trainer based in New York, took over the responsibility of preparing Corniche for future races. The colt joined Pletcher’s stable at Belmont Park and resumed his training in mid-June. Notably, Corniche’s workouts demonstrated significant improvement, with his July 9 outing proving to be particularly impressive.

Adapting to Unfamiliar Conditions

The upcoming Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga will present Corniche with new challenges. Not only has the colt never raced at Saratoga before, but the distance of 6 1/2 furlongs is also outside his typical routing range. However, Todd Pletcher has strategically chosen this race to help Corniche ease back into competition after a lengthy hiatus. Pletcher, renowned for his astute decision-making, understands the importance of gradual acclimatization for a horse that hasn’t raced in nine months.

No Soft Spots to Land

In selecting the Amsterdam Stakes, Pletcher acknowledges that there are no easy races for a talented horse like Corniche. Given his past successes, the options for lower-level races with fewer restrictions are limited. Typically, these races are reserved for horses with fewer than two victories or non-stakes winners. Pletcher explained his rationale, stating, “We didn’t want to run him in a race like the Jim Dandy or the Curlin off a lengthy layoff going nine furlongs.” The cautious approach ensures Corniche’s readiness and sets him up for a respectable performance in the Amsterdam Stakes.

Continuing a Tale of Success

The decision to run Corniche in the Amsterdam Stakes not only reflects Pletcher’s careful planning but also alludes to a fascinating father-son connection. Todd Pletcher himself has tasted victory in the Amsterdam on four occasions. His inaugural win came in 2009 with Quality Road, who also happens to be Corniche’s sire. Interestingly, the Amsterdam Stakes served as Quality Road’s introduction to Pletcher’s training regimen after making the shift from Jimmy Jerkens’ barn. Quality Road’s triumph in the Amsterdam also established a track record time of 1:13.74 for Saratoga’s 6 1/2-furlong distance.

Pletcher optimistically expressed his hope that the good fortunes from Quality Road’s Amsterdam victory and his subsequent accomplishments would extend to Corniche as well. With a touch of sentimentality, Pletcher aims to recreate the success he experienced with Quality Road, forging a similar path to triumph for Corniche.


Corniche’s return to the racetrack after an extended break has generated significant anticipation among racing enthusiasts. Todd Pletcher’s strategic choice of the Amsterdam Stakes as Corniche’s season debut highlights his commitment to delivering a successful campaign for the talented colt. Despite facing unfamiliar conditions and a challenging distance, Corniche’s impeccable pedigree and previous accomplishments provide a strong foundation for his upcoming performance. As racing fans eagerly await the Amsterdam Stakes, the stage is set for an exciting chapter in the promising career of this young and undefeated champion.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the notable achievements of Corniche as a two-year-old?

As a two-year-old, Corniche showcased his exceptional talent by winning two Grade 1 races: the American Pharoah Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. These victories earned him the Eclipse Award as the Champion 2-Year-Old.

2. Why did Corniche take an eight-month break from racing?

Following his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile victory, Corniche’s connections made the decision to prioritize his well-being and allow him to mature further before embarking on a rigorous Triple Crown campaign.

3. Who is Corniche’s trainer for his upcoming races?

After Bob Baffert’s suspension, Todd Pletcher took over the training responsibilities for Corniche. Pletcher is a highly regarded trainer known for his strategic approach and successes in prestigious races.

4. What is the significance of the Amsterdam Stakes in Corniche’s career?

The Amsterdam Stakes serves as Corniche’s season debut after his eight-month break from racing. It provides an opportunity for him to acclimate to competition gradually and showcase his talents in a well-planned stepping stone towards future races.

5. Is there any historical connection between Corniche and Todd Pletcher’s previous successes?

Yes, there is a compelling father-son connection. Corniche’s sire, Quality Road, won the Amsterdam Stakes under Todd Pletcher’s training. Pletcher aims to replicate the success he experienced with Quality Road through Corniche, forging a similar path to triumph.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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