Lucky Island showed his greed for speed in the $161,000 Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO), grabbing the lead after bursting out of the starting gate from the one hole and rolling to a 4 1/4 –length victory, without a serious challenge, July 4 at Belmont Park in New York. It was the fourth consecutive victory for the 4-year-old Argentine-bred son of Lucky Roberto and the Equalize mare Ebrolize.
The Tom Fool winner hasn’t been beaten this year.
“My horse was so sharp, and he broke so good,” said jockey Alan Garcia, who was aboard Lucky Island. “I had a ton of horse all the way around. When I asked him at the end, he acted like the race was just starting again. I was so confident with him. He had a little adjusting to do from Argentina, but now he loves it here.”
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Shadwell Stable’s Lucky Island covered seven furlongs in 1:22.73. The second betting choice in the field of five, the colt paid $5.00, $2.80, and $2.20. The slight favorite, Tasteyville, who paid $2.50 and $2.10, finished second, one length in front of Premium Wine ($2.20), who was followed by Starforaday and Council Member.
“You know, he broke so sharp; that was the key,” said McLaughlin of Lucky Island. “We thought we might be cleared, but Alan did a great job of getting him away from there.”
The dark bay or brown colt’s next target, according to the trainer, is the seven-furlong Forego Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 30.
Bred by Arroyo de Luna, Lucky Island raced just one time in his native land, winning a maiden race by nine lengths. He made his first start in the Shadwell colors in this country last December, finishing last of seven in a 6 ½-furlong allowance/optional claiming event at Calder Race Course. Going into that race, McLaughlin said the plan was to send Lucky Island to Dubai to compete, so the colt wasn’t treated with the diuretic Salix (formerly known as Lasix), which isn’t permitted on race day in that country. The colt, ridden by Elvis Trujillo, stumbled at the start and was forced to steady, and he also bled internally a “little bit,” according to his trainer.
Since then, Lucky Island has run on Salix and been undefeated with Garcia in the irons. The colt kicked off his 2008 campaign with a 2 ¼-length triumph at six furlongs at Gulfstream Park in February. Next he won at seven furlongs at Aqueduct in April. In his last outing prior to the Tom Fool, Lucky Island wore down front-running Man of Danger en route to a 2 ¼-length victory in the May 10 Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) at six furlongs at Belmont.
In the Tom Fool, Lucky Island carried the top weight of 118 pounds. He set brisk early fractions of :22.84 and :45:37 with Tasteyville and his jockey, Michael Luzzi, in pursuit. But by the stretch call, Lucky Island had increased his advantage over that rival from one length after a half-mile to three lengths. He drew off as the wire approached.
Lucky Island, who is developing into one of the nation’s top sprinters, has career earnings of $224,942.