Pluck, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) winner as a homebred for Team Valor, will begin his 3-year-old season in a $30,000 allowance race on turf at Tampa Bay Downs March 12, bypassing the $100,000 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) the same day at Gulfstream Park.
The one-mile allowance event, in which Pluck will break from post 2 in the 10-horse field, is race 7 and is set to go off at 3:20 p.m. EST.
“I am sure that this will look funny to some people,” said Pluck’s trainer, Graham Motion. “Here we are, the favorite for a grade III at Gulfstream, running instead in a lowly allowance race at Tampa, but I think this is the right race for Pluck to start off in.
“He should prefer the more lush Tampa turf over the harder surface at Gulfstream Park, and he definitely will enjoy the mile rather than the mile and an eighth (of the Palm Beach). I think he is ready to run well. Animal Kingdom, the colt he’s been working well with, ran a cracker first time out for us at Gulfstream, so I feel that Pluck should be fit enough for a mile race.”
Animal Kingdom was beaten a head, with the winner getting the mile in 1:34.66.
In addition to winning Breeders’ Cup, Pluck (More Than Ready —Secret Heart, by Fort Wood) won the Summer Stakes Presented by TVG (gr. IIIT) at Woodbine last September. He ended the year with three wins from five outings and earned $725,440.
The first major goal for Pluck, who is now owned in partnership with Tom Simon’s Vinery after Team Valor International (Barry Irwin, president) sold a substantial interest in the colt last season, is the group I French Two Thousand Guineas equivalent May 15. Motion has designated one other prep race for Pluck: the Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT) April 8 at Keeneland.
Pluck, the even-money favorite under Ramon Dominguez in the March 12 Tampa Bay race, will tote high weight of 122 pounds, giving two pounds to Lil Bit O’Fun and six pounds to the rest of the field.