On the record: Todd Pletcher, Melody Belle, Jamie Richards and more …

• The week’s significant milestone, facts and figures

Horse Racing Melody Belle
Melody Belle equals Sunline’s NZ record with 13th G1 win in Thorondon Mile at Trentham. Photo: Race Images – Peter Rubery

400m Todd Pletcher

USA: According to Equibase statistics, Todd Pletcher became the first trainer in North American racing history to top the $400 million mark in career earnings at the weekend.

Saturday [Jan 30], to be precise, was the day on which the seven-time Eclipse Award winner reached $400m prize-money threshold as Zaajel won the G3 Forward Gal at Gulfstream Park.

Pletcher, 53, is in his 26th year of training in his own right and is finally eligible this year for the Hall of Fame, for which he would appear a shoo-in. The former Wayne Lukas has more than 5,000 winners to his name; second on the all-time prize-money list is Steve Asmussen with over $345m.

13 Melody Belle

New Zealand: Melody Belle equalled the NZ record for G1 wins on Saturday [Jan 30] when she recorded her 13th top-level victory in the Thorndon Mile at Trentham.

In beating Sinarahman by a length under Opie Bosson, the Jamie Richards-trained six-year-old matched the feat of another magnificent Kiwi mare in Sunline. “I can remember Sunline racing and the race she won in Hong Kong more than anything else,” said Richards.

“To equal her record is wonderful as she was the mare of the world and while we’ve done it mainly in New Zealand, it is still very good to equal it. I’m very proud of her as she has done so much for my career and has flown the flag for all of us.”

Melody Belle has now won 18 of her 36 starts, Winx holds the world record of 25 G1 wins.

100 Jamie Richards

New Zealand: Melody Belle’s trainer Jamie Richards had already reached a landmark earlier last week when he became the fastest in the history of NZ racing to reach 100 wins in a season when Exaltation scored at Hastings on Thursday [Jan 28].

Next target for the Te Akau Racing trainer will be the all-time NZ seasonal record which stands at 143, set by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman in 2017-18. “It was a really nice win and great to get the milestone,” said Richards, who is #7 on the TRC world rankings. “It’s been a great season so far and hopefully we can continue the momentum.”

Richards, 31, ended the weekend as runaway leader in the NZ trainers’ premiership with 102 victories – second-placed Stephen Marsh has 43.

2 Rainbow Bridge

South Africa: Having scored in the 2019 edition, Rainbow Bridge on Saturday [Jan 30] became only the second horse in 40 years to win the Cape Town Met more than once, following in the footsteps of three-time winner Pocket Power (2007-09).

The Eric Sands-trained six-year-old gelding was ridden by Luke Ferraris, champion apprentice in South Africa for the last two seasons, who became the youngest rider to win the Cape Met in the modern era with a dramatic last-to-first effort as he swept down the standside rail at Kenilworth.

The most successful progeny of Mauritzfontein Stud-based stallion Ideal World, Rainbow Bridge scored by a length and three-quarters over Durban July winner Belgarion. He has now been in the first three in no fewer than 11 G1 races since January 2019.

86 Milton Bradley

GB: Veteran trainer Milton Bradley, who won the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot with longserving sprint star The Tatling in 2004, has called time on his 50-year training career with immediate effect at the age of 86.

“I’ve called it a day at last,” he told the Racing Post on Sunday [Jan 31]. “I’ve had 50 years of it and had over 1,000 winners on the Flat, and a lot of jumps winners as well.”

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