Normandy Invasion and Itsmyluckyday, both highly regarded sophomores early in the season, have returned to training in Florida and will prepare for their 4-year-old campaigns in 2014.
Itsmyluckyday, a multiple graded stakes winner at Gulfstream Park last winter and runner-up in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), is nearing a return to the work tab for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. The Lawyer Ron colt is stabled at Palm Meadows with Plesa, who is looking forward to getting his stable star back to the races.
"He made a big splash last year at Gulstream and was fortunate to finish second in the Preakness and then got injured in the race after that," Plesa said. "He's back in training now and he'll probably have his first work at the end of this month. He'll run sometime at the Gulfstream meet."
Itsmyluckyday stamped himself a Kentucky Derby contender for Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa with wins in the Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (gr. III) before running second to Orb in the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I). Orb went on to win the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) while Itsmyluckyday was 15th, but he rebounded with a strong showing in the Preakness.
In his subsequent start, Itsmyluckday was pulled up in the Pegasus (gr. III) at Monmouth Park and was later diagnosed with a pelvic fracture. The inury was similar to that of 2011 Derby winner Animal Kingdom, who came back from an eight-month layoff to run second in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) and then win the 2013 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).
"Certain injuries, you say to yourself, 'You hope he comes back.' What he had was pretty black and white," Plesa said. "They get over it, they heal 100% and there are no side effects. Lucky enough for him, as much time as we've lost, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter because we can see that he's getting closer to where he's going to be working and then running."
Plesa has been encouraged by the energy Itsmyluckyday has shown in the mornings.
"He's exactly the same as he was when he went to the Preakness," he said. "He used to drag me around that barn every morning, and he's dragging us around the barn now. It's exciting to have him getting ready to run. When he's ready to run, then two or three weeks out we'll find something for him."
Meanwhile, Normandy Invasion is also back in training with Chad Brown at Palm Meadows for Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm. Runner-up in the Remsen (gr. II) and Wood Memorial (gr. I), the Tapit colt went to the sidelines in the summer when a deep abscess in his front hoof put a premature end to his season.
"He just started back galloping a couple of weeks ago, and he's about ready to breeze," Brown said. "We're just taking it day by day. We'll let him tell us when he's ready."
A maiden winner last November at Aqueduct Racetrack, Normandy Invasion paired his runner-up efforts and a fith in the Risen Star (gr. II) for a berth in the Kentucky Derby, where he took the lead at the head of the stretch and held it to the eighth pole before tiring to finish fourth. Kept out of the Preakness (gr. I) and Belmont (gr. I) by design to await a summer campaign, Normandy Invasion was sidelined in early August to await 2014.
"Normandy actually spent the summer and fall over at WinStar Farm, and they got him started for us and sent him to Palm Meadows in terrific shape," Brown said. "He's a horse that has shown a lot of talent. He's had his fair share of bad luck and a couple bumps in the road, but at the end of the day he's a really nice horse with a lot of talent and we're happy to have him back. I think that he's moving really well right now under tack, and we're anxious to get him back breezing."