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Plesa Still Has His ‘Luckycharm’ for Saturday’s Miss Gracie Stakes

Sep 12, 2019
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The winner’s circle celebration after Itsmyluckycharm’s victory in the Azalea Stakes on the June 29 Summit of Speed program at Gulfstream Park was a bit bittersweet for Eddie Plesa Jr.

The highly respected veteran South Florida trainer was obviously thrilled with the 3-year-old homebred filly’s second consecutive stakes triumph for his wife, Laurie. However, his festive mood was tempered somewhat by the likelihood that the Azalea would be Itsmyluckycharm’s last for her breeder/trainer and owner.

The daughter of Itsmyluckyday was sent to the July 8 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Horses of Racing Age Sale but would return to Plesa’s stable after longtime owners Karl and Cathi Glassman bought half interest in the Kentucky-bred filly.

Itsmyluckycharm is slated for a return to action at Gulfstream in Saturday’s $75,000 Miss Gracie, a 7 ½-furlong stakes on turf for 3-year-old fillies.

“She missed three weeks of training. We’ve worked her. Hopefully, she’ll be 100 percent,” said Plesa, whose versatile trainee has had five breezes since returning home to Gulfstream. “I think she’ll be very close. I’m just hoping for a good trip.”

Itsmyluckycharm, whose back-to-back victories in the Azalea and the Portofino Bay were achieved on the main track, is also a stakes winner on turf, having won the Feb. 18 Mrs. Presidentress on the infield course. She has finished first in seven of her last eight starts and has finished first or second in 11 of 13 career starts, coming in first in four of five starts on turf.

Plesa trained Itsmyluckyday during a career that included a victory in the 2014 Woodward (G1) and has found that his daughter has many of the qualities of her sire.

“He was an overachiever. He is a hard-knocking stallion who produces runners,” Plesa said.

Jockey Albin Jimenez will seek his third-straight stakes victory aboard Itsmyluckycharm.

Robert Roffey Jr.’s Zarina is set for a stakes return against 3-year-old fillies after finishing a most impressive second against older rivals in an Aug. 18 optional claiming allowance won by Patrick Biancone-trained Raven’s Lady.

“That filly that beat her is a nice filly for Mr. Biancone. She won two Group 1s in Europe,” trainer Chad Stewart said. “[Zarina] likes to have a good pace to run at. There was a good strong pace the other day and she always has a kick.”

Zarina was 11th and last on the backstretch before making a sweeping five-wide move on the turn and closing to finish second

The homebred daughter of Temple City prevailed over 3-year-old fillies in her previous start after closing from off the pace to capture the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes July 6.

“She’s a very professional filly. When she trains and goes out there and does what she’s supposed to do. She just goes out and does her work. She’s nice and relaxed. She’s a pretty easy filly to be around,” Stewart said.

Leonel Reyes as the return mount on Zarina.

Imaginary Stables and Paul Braverman’s Vow to Recover returns to Gulfstream after finishing fifth in the Lake Placid (G2) at Saratoga, beaten by just 1 ½ lengths. In her previous start she finished fourth as the favorite behind Zarina in the Martha Washington. The Elizabeth Dobles-trained daughter of Broken Vow captured the Honey Rider Stakes May 4.

Edgard Zayas is slated to ride Vow To Recover for the first time.

Zoom and Fish Stable Inc., Charlie Spiring and trainer Ralph Nicks’ Isla Road is set for her first start on turf and in a race restricted to 3-year-old fillies following three sharp efforts against older rivals. The daughter of Quality Road finished second in her debut behind next-out winner Varanasi before graduating by four lengths in two starts last year. She returned from more than a year layoff to finish second behind streaking Liza Star, who has won four races in a row, in an Aug. 17 optional claiming allowance.

Christian Torres has the mount.

Great Sister Diane, Raki, Beachwood Ella, Valley Date, Calinas Song, Beautiful Ballad, Charlotte the Brit round out the main field. Dizzy and Itsherluckyday are main-track-only entrants.

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