Sara Patterson, right of horse, joins “Pletcher” in the winner’s circle at Remington Park on Nov. 27, 2020

Trainer Todd Pletcher, a 2021 nominee to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, has a horse entered Saturday at Oaklawn in Fearless, among the favorites for the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older runners.

Roughly 24 hours before Pletcher, the trainer, was scheduled to send out Fearless in the Oaklawn Handicap, unbeaten Pletcher, the horse, was to make his 3-year-old debut in an allowance sprint Friday at Oaklawn.

“I have no connection to the horse,” Pletcher said Wednesday afternoon.

But Sara Patterson does. Pletcher is owned by Patterson’s father, Randy, who purchased the son of Jack Milton for $7,500 at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Sara Patterson named Pletcher after her best friend, Shad Pletcher, who died in December 2019. He was 48.

“I had just spent the weekend with him,” Patterson said. “Hadn’t seen him in a year. Unexpectedly, in the middle of the night, just passed away. It was a pulmonary aneurism.”

Trained by Randy Morse, Pletcher was a 2 ¾-length winner of his Nov. 27, 2020, career debut at Remington Park. Randy Patterson, Morse’s main client, owns Cedar Run Farm, a 200-acre foaling and layup facility just west of Hot Springs in Pearcy. Sara Patterson manages Cedar Run and said Pletcher was the first horse she’s selected at a sale.

“It was coming down to the end of the sale and a lot of the sales companies were posting pictures on their Facebook pages – ‘Hey, check out this colt, check out this, check out that,’ ” Patterson said. “There was a colt and he just kept popping up on my Facebook page. I got to researching it and looking at it.”

After diving into Pletcher’s pedigree, Patterson said she really liked the colt and sent her father some pictures. A contact for Randy Patterson then inspected the colt, Sara Patterson said, and gave the thumbs up to bid.

“Dad, of course, made it sound like he wasn’t going to buy him,” Patterson said. “It’s just another horse, blah, blah. I said, ‘OK, that’s fine, but if I were going to pick one, that would be my pick. I like that horse.’ Sale goes on, I look at the results and, sure enough, I scroll down there and there it says, ‘Randy Patterson.’ ”

Sara Patterson said she had to come up with a name and eventually thought of her late best friend.

“He was always so supportive of me and my career and finally making the decision to come down to Arkansas,” Patterson said. “I felt like it was cool. He would always tell me how proud he was of me being able to come down and live this dream that I’m living. I was like, ‘Pletcher, that’s got to be his name. That’s it. It’s Pletcher.’ ”

Patterson, 35, grew up in Anthony, Kan., and she and her father began developing Cedar Run approximately seven years ago to target the Arkansas breeding program.

After the name Pletcher was approved by The Jockey Club, Patterson said she realized “everybody” would believe the colt was named after Todd Pletcher.

“I never even thought about it at the time,” Patterson said with a laugh. “I’m excited about the horse.”



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