Kirkpatrick & Co Presents In Their Care: As She Logs Miles Assisting Pletcher, Horses Are Home For DePasquale - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Kirkpatrick & Co Presents In Their Care: As She Logs Miles Assisting Pletcher, Horses Are Home For DePasquale

DePasquale with Keen Ice

Ginny DePasquale never imagined that experience as a well-traveled first-grader would prepare her to play an integral role in trainer Todd Pletcher's Hall of Fame career. Yet that is what happened.

Although DePasquale was born in Philadelphia, she did not remain there long since her father served in the Navy. Her first real introduction to horses occurred when she was three years old and there was a stable across the street from the base in Corpus Christi, Texas. She barely met her first-grade classmates at Corpus Christi before it was back to Philadelphia and on to Jacksonville.

“We traveled all around the country and halfway across the world with him,” DePasquale said.

Wherever they ventured, horses became something to cling to during a childhood in which change was the lone constant. She felt particularly fortunate after the family journeyed to Morocco because there was a stable on the base.

“I used to go to the riding stable all the time when we were in Morocco. I used to spend my days there,” she said. “If my mom was looking for me, she knew where to find me.”

There was never much doubt that DePasquale's career path would lead to horses. She began working with them after high school while raising two children, Kimberly and Darin. She maintained a farm in Pennsylvania for a time before making her way to Florida. A friend told her that Pletcher was looking for a foreman to oversee 25 to 30 horses at Hialeah Race Track.

Pletcher, after graduating from the University of Arizona and working for six years as an assistant to legendary D. Wayne Lukas, had struck out on his own at the end of 1995. DePasquale knew little about him; he knew less about her. They took a chance on each other.

“At the time, you don't know,” she said. “I was so lucky.”

Pletcher got so lucky, too. As his financial backing strengthened and he began to oversee high-caliber stock, the need increased to send them far and wide in pursuit of black type and lucrative purses. Who could he trust to accompany them, to make sure their needs were met and they were made to feel at home in strange surroundings?

DePasquale became the woman for the job – and relished every minute. New people, new places, new things? Old hat for her.

“I always liked to travel. There were times I was gone every single weekend. I'd fly home, unpack, re-pack and was gone again,” DePasquale said of the intense schedule she followed for her first 15 years or so with Pletcher.

With DePasquale returning home with one victory after another, Pletcher rattled off four consecutive Eclipse Awards as the leading trainer in North America from 2004-07. He has an unmatched seven Eclipse Awards overall in addition to two Kentucky Derbies, three Belmont Stakes and 11 Breeders' Cup wins. He smashed the record for purse earnings with more than $413 million – and counting.

Pletcher, 54, emerged as an obvious choice for voters in his first year of eligibility for the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame. He constantly emphasizes the importance of DePasquale and others. He knows he had so many helping hands in receiving the sport's greatest accolade.

“You can't even quantify how much a bunch of people have contributed, especially the assistants,” Pletcher said. “I've been blessed to have some really good ones, some great ones that have been with me for a long time and some others who have branched out on their own and done very well.”

DePasquale, who declined to reveal her age, currently oversees horses that were left behind after the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course so they could continue to train there. She will move to Florida in November. Pletcher typically maintains a robust operation in South Florida at Palm Beach Downs as he perennially vies for honors as the leading trainer at Gulfstream Park's Championship Meet.

Communication among assistants is critical to the sustained success of what has become a massive operation. Tristan Barry remained with DePasquale in Saratoga. Byron Hughes is at Belmont Park. Anthony Sciametta reports in from Florida.

“If everybody is trying to work independently of each other,” DePasquale said, “nothing would get done.”

Every assistant reviews every horse with Pletcher every day.

“He has an unbelievable memory,” DePasquale said. “He knows the horse, the sire, the dam, what race they were in, what horses were in the race against them. Just amazing.”

She never considered moving on.

“He's so easy to get along with,” she said of Pletcher. “In all the years, I've never heard him raise his voice to anyone.”

DePasquale has considered retirement, but it is hard to break away from such a strong team, so many good horses and so much success. She begins each year by saying she would like to work one more season. She has said that for some years now.

Tom Pedulla wrote for USA Today from 1995-2012 and has been a contributor to the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Blood-Horse, America's Best Racing and other publications.

If you wish to suggest someone as a potential subject for In Their Care, please send an email to [email protected] that includes the person's name and contact information in addition to a brief description of the individual's background.

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