Itsmyluckyday Becomes Main-Track Attraction in Gulfstream Derby
Any difference of opinion concerning Itsmyluckyday’s future was settled rather emphatically Saturday in the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby.
Coming off a troubled fifth on turf in the Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream on Dec. 15, Itsmyluckyday distinguished himself in the country’s first Derby of 2013, dominating his five rivals over the main track by 6 ¾ lengths under jockey Paco Lopez.
“This horse has been training great. Paco thinks this horse is better on the turf and still thinks he’s better on the turf,” trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said. “I have a problem with that. I know how good he’s been training. He loves the dirt.”
In Saturday’s one-mile stakes for newly turned 3-year-olds, Itsmyluckday stamped himself as a main-track attraction and an exciting prospect for this year’s Kentucky Derby.
“I don’t get Derby Fever until at least April,” said Plesa after the son of Lawyer Ron ran a mile in a strong 1:34.39 while pulling away to his fourth victory in eight starts.
Itsmyluckday settled in fourth on the backstretch run of the one-turn stakes before making a move on the Undrafted, who had set swift fractions of :21.93 and :24.18 for the first half-mile. The Kentucky-bred colt challenged for the lead on the turn into the stretch before sweeping past the tiring Undrafted and lengthening his lead to the wire.
“When I looked up at the fractions, I was somewhat concerned, but he just kept on going,” said Plesa, whose colt was the 3-1 third choice in the betting. “I’m very pleased with his effort.”
Sr. Quisqueyano, the 5-2 second choice ridden by Joel Rosario, raced just behind the leaders throughout the race and finished second, 5 ½ lengths ahead of
Undrafted, who held third by eight lengths under John Velazquez. Star Contender, the 8-5 favorite who had never run on a dirt surface, was never a factor while finishing last.
Itsmyluckday, who is owned by Plesa’s wife, Laurie, and the Trilogy Stable, earned $60,000 for his sharp effort, upping his earnings to $185, 600.
“We’ll evaluate what our options are. You’ve got the next race here (Grade 3 $400,000 Holy Bull) and you’ve got another one at Tampa (Grade 3 $250,000 Sam Davis on Feb. 2). The main thing is: he’s had a full schedule. Let’s see how he comes out of this race and we’ll go from there.”
The $400,000 Holy Bull (G3) on Jan 26 gained a strong candidate in Saturday’s seventh race when Bradester defeated a strong field of entry-level allowance runners by 1 ¾ lengths as the even-money favorite.
Ridden by Jose Lezcano, Bradester stalked the pace set by Good Tickled and pressed by Gunderman along the backstretch and around the turn before driving to victory in the 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds.
“He’s a nice horse. We’ve always liked him a lot,” said trainer Eddie Kenneally after the son of Lion Heart collected his second victory in three starts. “He won last time over a distance of ground and he ran well again today. He has a lot of stamina, so distance isn’t going to be a problem for him.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher unveiled an imposing 3-year-old prospect in Tuesday’s second race, saddling Verrazano for a brilliant 7 3/4-length triumph in his career debut. The 3-year-old son of More Than Ready is a half-brother to El Padrino, whom Pletcher saddled for a victory in the Risen Star (G1) and an off-the-board finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1) last year.
“El Padrino is a very good horse, but this colt is even more impressive,” Pletcher said.
Let’s Go Stable, who owns El Padrino, also campaigns Verrazano, who stalked the pace before romping away from his competition under jockey John Velazquez. The Kentucky-bred colt ran 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.48.