Itsmyluckyday Looms as Strong Favorite in Gulfstream Feature
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Winless in seven starts on turf before being claimed by Rontos Racing Stable in February, Border Song has demonstrated a greater affinity for dirt in recent starts at Gulfstream Park.
The French-bred import will try to hit pay dirt in Saturday’s $75,000 Best of the Rest Stakes, in which Itsmyluckyday, the 2013 Preakness (G1) runner-up, is expected to be heavily favored running on the track over which he scored victories in the Holy Bull (G2) and Gulfstream Park Derby last year.
Border Song launched his career with a pair of easy triumphs over the synthetic surface at Chantilly in early 2012 before moving to turf. Following a pair of mediocre fifth-place finishes on turf at the historic race course situated 31 miles outside of Paris, Border Song was shipped to the U.S., where he managed a trio of third-place finishes on turf in five starts.
“When we claimed him, we thought he’d be better on dirt than he is on turf,” said Ron Sanchez of Rontos Racing Stable. “The first two races he ran were on (synthetic footing). After we claimed him, he trained good on dirt and when we breezed him for the first time, he went 46 1/5 (seconds for a half-mile). We said, ‘Wow, this is a dirt horse.’”
After being claimed for $50,000 out of a third-place finish on turf on Feb. 7, the Manny Azpurua-trained Border Song returned to action on dirt, overcoming a hard bumping incident at the start to finish second in a 6-furlong optional claiming race. The 5-year-old son of Stormy River came back to win his first U.S. race, closing after a wide trip to capture a 6 ½-furlong allowance race on March 20. In his most recent start, he closed to finish fourth behind Happy My Way, Dad’z Laugh, and Ribo Bobo in a very tough $100,000 Sir Shackleton Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs on March 29.
“He’s a tremendous horse. He’s healthy and strong. He can run from six furlongs to a mile, a mile and a sixteenth,” Sanchez said. “We’re very happy with him.”
Elvis Trujillo has been named to ride.
Border Song’s dirt credentials figure to be sternly tested by Itsmyluckyday in the 1 1/16-mile Best of the Rest. The Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained 4-year-old established himself as one of the top 3-year-olds in the country last year before suffering a pelvic fracture last June. Out of action for almost ninth months, Itsmyluckday, came back to finish fourth behind 2013 Belmont winner Palace Malice, 2012 Travers victor Golden Ticket and multiple graded-stakes winner Uncaptured in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) on March 8.
“He came out of the race 110 percent. He’s training fantastically,” said Plesa, who trained Best of the Rest during a career that included 16 wins and $1.4 million in purses (1997-2003). “He couldn’t be doing any better.”
Paco Lopez has the return mount aboard the son of Lawyer Ron.
Speak Logistics, a graded stakes-placed 4-year-old formerly trained by Plesa; Goodtimehadbyall, who captured the $110,000 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit at Gulfstream on Dec. 7 and won an optional claiming allowance in his last start; and Sr. Quisqueyano, a multiple stakes-winner of more than $500,000; all bring solid credentials into the Best of the Rest.
Macho Bull, Ledokol and Joshua’s Comprise round out the eight-horse field.