Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa's Itsmyluckyday made short work of his rivals in the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby, scoring by a widening 6 3/4-length margin in the New Year Day's event for three-year-olds. The one-mile event serves as the first race on the road to Gulfstream Park's signature Kentucky Derby prep, the $1 million Florida Derby on March 30.
"This horse has been training great," trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said. "(Jockey) Paco (Lopez) thinks this horse is better on the turf and still thinks he's better on the turf. I have a problem with that. I know how good he's been training. He loves the dirt."
Itsmyluckyday thrust himself into the Kentucky Derby discussion with the impressive win, but Plesa is unconcerned.
"I don't get Derby Fever until at least April," the trained noted.
Itsmyluckyday benefited from a couple of scratches, including major contender Purple Egg, to score in the six-horse field. He raced within a couple of lengths of pacesetter Undrafted, who showed the way through opening splits in :23 and :44 4/5, before advancing to challenge on the far turn. Itsmyluckyday entered the stretch drive with a short lead and plenty of momentum.
Sr. Quisqueyano tried to make a run at the leader after straightening for home, but he was no match for Itsmyluckyday, who drew off nicely through the final furlong. The Lawyer Ron colt completed the one-turn distance in 1:34 1/5.
"When I looked up at the fractions, I was somewhat concerned, but he just kept on going," Plesa said. "I'm very pleased with his effort."
The winner paid $8.20, $3.60 and $2.60 as the 3-1 third choice. Sr. Quisqueyano, the 5-2 second favorite, easily held second by 5 1/2-length margin over Undrafted. It was another eight lengths back to Joshua's Compromise, and Almost English and 8-5 favorite Star Contender completed the order of finish. Uptown Anthem was also scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by Liberation Farm and Brandywine Farm, Itsmyluckyday broke his maiden in his second start at Monmouth Park last June. He followed that with a close third in the grassy Tyro and then captured the off-the-turf Fasig-Tipton Turf Dash. Following a three-length tally in the September 15 Foolish Pleasure at Calder, the dark bay colt recorded a sixth in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot and a fourth in the Dania Beach, the latter coming over Gulfstream's turf on December 15.
"We'll evaluate what our options are," Plesa said when asked about future plans. "You've got the next race here (Grade 3 Holy Bull on January 26) and you've got another one at Tampa (Grade 3 Sam Davis on February 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."
Out of the stakes-placed Doneraile Court mare Viva La Slew, Itsmyluckyday initially brought $47,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale before selling to his current connections for $110,000 at the 2012 OBS March two-year-old sale. He hails from the same female family of Vicar, who captured the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Grade 1 Fountain of Youth in 1999.
With Tuesday's $60,000 payday, Itsmyluckyday has now earned $185,600 from a 8-4-1-1 career line.