Itsmyluckyday, runner-up in the 2013 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and winner of the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) early in his 3-year-old season, rolled to an authoritative victory April 26 in the $75,000 Best of the Rest Stakes at Gulfstream Park. (VIDEO)
The 4-year-old son of Lawyer Ron, who suffered a pelvic fracture last July in the Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park, was making his second start for Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa since recovering from the injury. He came off a fourth in the March 8 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) won by Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Palace Malice, in which he tired after setting the pace.
"It's somewhat of a vindication," trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said after Itsmyluckyday tallied by three lengths as the 1-2 favorite in a field of seven. "They dismiss horses and people very quickly in this sport. He has been off the radar for a long time, and that's OK because he should have been.
"He ran the race I would have expected him to run. Anything other than how he won, I probably would have been somewhat disappointed. If he was all out to win by a length or two lengths, I would have said, 'Maybe he needed the race.' But I would have been disappointed."
Paco Lopez, en route to his fourth victory on the card, was in the irons. He kept Itsmyluckyday up close to the pace set by Sr. Quisqueyano, who went a quarter in :24.07 and a half in :47.38 with the eventual winner at his outside flank.
Drawing on even terms with his front-running rival through three-quarters in 1:10.96, Itsmyluckyday edged away coming off the turn and then kicked clear through a 1:35.46 mile, widening the advantage to the wire.
"He's an easy horse to ride," said Lopez. "He's a class horse."
Final time for the 1 1/16-mile event on a fast track was 1:42.38.
Carrying top weight of 123 pounds, Itsmyluckyday returned $3, $2.20, and $2.10. Sr. Quisqueyano brought $3.20 and $2.60 while holding for second by 2 1/4 lengths, while 37-1 shot Joshua's Comprise checked in third to return $7.20.
Bred in Kentucky by Liberation Farm and Brandywine Farm out of the Doneraile Court mare Viva La Slew, Itsmyluckyday now has a 6-3-1 record from 15 starts and earnings of $887,600. The victory was his first since that Holy Bull score earned in January 2013 over 2-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby .
Itsmyluckyday was runner-up to eventual Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Orb in the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I), and rebounded from a 15th on a sloppy, sealed track in the Kentucky Derby to make his big Preakness run 1 3/4 lengths behind Oxbow . He then took a break until the Pegasus, in which he was pulled up with the pelvic injury.
The bay colt was a $110,000 purchase by Eddie Plesa at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s 2012 March sale of 2-year-olds in training from the Eisaman Equine consignment. He went into that auction after being pinhooked by Nick Hines for $47,000 from the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Plesa watched the race in the tack room in his barn on the Monmouth Park backstretch.
"I told Laurie before the race, 'I feel more nervous sitting here than I would have been if I were there,' " the trainer said.
"He did it the way I felt he was supposed to do it. He is a class horse. I think before the year's out, we'll be talking about him as one of the top handicap horses in the country, barring the unforeseen," Plesa said. "He had everything going his way. He had a race underneath his belt. He had a racetrack surface that he liked. It was a tough field of horses, I don't want to take anything away from them, but he did what he was supposed to do."
Itsmyluckyday has been trained at Palm Meadows and will join Plesa at Monmouth for the spring and summer months.
"I'm just looking to find a couple easy spots before we go hunting the heavy heads," Plesa said. "We'll try to build his confidence and everything else up, so when I have to run against a horse like Palace Malice next time, I'll be able to say, 'This horse is ready to give his best performance and ready to find out where he belongs."