J J's Lucky Train was put to the test by favored Bandbox and proved best by a neck in the $51,500 Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park Feb. 26 (VIDEO).
The seven-furlong contest was reduced to five runners after a pair of scratches. Triple Crown nominees Bandbox and J J’s Lucky Train left the gate as the 1-2 favorites and turned the Miracle Wood into a match race.
Bandbox shot to the front and led J J’s Lucky Train into the turn after quick fractions of :22.83 and :45.90 before they linked up and matched strides into the stretch. Three-sixteenths to the finish Jose Ferrer urged J J’s Lucky Train to the front and under constant pressure held off their rival to win in 1:23.60.
“The horse broke sharp,” Ferrer said of the winner. “He just found himself on the backside. I just wanted to keep him close and put a little pressure. I didn’t want (the leader) to go too easy in front.”
Wicked Thunder was another 8 1/2 lengths farther back in third.
Fresh Start Stable's winner, a son of Silver Train --Delta Sensation, by 1995 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Thunder Gulch , is trained by Bill Anderson at Philadelphia's Parx Racing. He was claimed out of his maiden debut for $40,000 by his present connections.
“We try to claim young horses that have some potential and it worked out this time,” said Anderson. “I was surprised down the backside. I thought with the one scratch (Diski Dance) we’d probably be on the lead.”
J J’s Silver Train was the 6-5 second choice in the wagering and paid $4.40. Bandbox, the 9-10 favorite ridden by Travis Dunkelberger, was the bottom half of a $7 exacta.
In his previous two starts, both at Aqueduct, J J's Lucky Train finished second behind Triple Crown contenders Monzon in the Count Fleet and Toby’s Corner in the Whirlaway.
“He ran real good races but I thought a step up against the real top horses at a mile and a sixteenth or longer might be a little beyond his limits," Anderson said. "His sire won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and he has a lot of speed. (The Triple Crown series) might be beyond his limitations.”
Anderson said J J’s Lucky Train would start next in the Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct on April 9.
ELCO Stable bred the dark bay or brown colt in Kentucky.