HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Augustin Stables’ Ever So Lucky has had a run of bad luck in 2012, but his connections are hoping that a new path via the $150,000 Swale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday will lead the son of Indian Charlie to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
Earlier this year, Ever So Lucky was being pointed to the seven furlong Hutcheson Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream but a slow breeze on an off track had trainer Jonathan Sheppard thinking the bay colt may not be ready for the race. Consequently, rain in South Florida that week led to a muddy track for the Hutcheson and Ever So Lucky was scratched from the race.
While in training for his next possible start, Ever So Lucky grabbed a quarter breezing five eighths of a mile in 1:00.65 on February 21. Sheppard then gave his trainee some time off in order to heal.
“He’s had a few hiccups along the way,” said Sheppard. “He was forced to miss a couple of works. I’ve had to stop and start his training. I started to feel sorry for the poor horse.”
Originally, Sheppard was hoping to get two breezes into Ever So Lucky before his next race but as luck would have it, the son of Indian Charlie has been training exceptionally well with only one breeze. The 3-year-old colt worked five furlongs in :58.80 on March 3 over a fast track at Gulfstream.
“He worked better than expected,” Sheppard said. “And he recovered better than expected. I considered an allowance race for him but the seven eighths (distance) of the Swale is a good prep for him. I drove up to Camden to have dinner with (owner) Mr. (George) Strawbridge and we have been chatting about it (running in the Swale). We’re going to go ahead and run him.”
Ever So Lucky has been galloping strong each morning since his last work, showing his connections he is ready to run. The bay colt has not run since November 26, when he finished second by 1 ½-lengths to Gemologist in the Kentucky Juvenile (G2) at Churchill Downs. Prior to that race, Ever So Lucky broke his maiden by an easy 3 ¼ lengths on November 11 in a 6 ½ furlong maiden special weight also at Churchill Downs.
“He’s as good as ever (right now),” said Sheppard. “He’s got quite a bit of natural speed so I hope he doesn’t go into the firing line too early (in the Swale). I will probably caution the rider.”
A good performance from Ever So Lucky on Saturday could lead Strawbridge and Sheppard to Kentucky for the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland’s upcoming spring meet.
“There are quite a few options for three year olds now,” said Sheppard. “We’ll see how he runs (in the Swale) but Mr. Strawbridge would love to run at Keeneland. Last year when his cousin Charlotte Weber’s horse (Brilliant Speed) won the Blue Grass, she wasn’t there. She called Mr. Strawbridge right as they passed the wire and told him to get down to the winners circle and accept the trophy for her. He got a big kick out of that.”
Looking ahead from the Blue Grass, a possible start in the 1 ¼ Kentucky Derby (G1) would come three weeks later for Ever So Lucky and Sheppard feels that is attainable.
“That (the Blue Grass) would leave three weeks to the Derby,” Sheppard said. “He trained so well at Keeneland last fall that it would not be unreasonable. He’s already had two races on the dirt at Churchill. He would be going from a synthetic surface to dirt and Animal Kingdom did that last year. I do have some reservation about the mile-and-a-quarter, but I’m going to keep an open mind and let him tell us.”
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