Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. confirmed that Itsmyluckyday, runner-up in the 2012 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), will point to the July 6 Salvatore Mile (gr. III) at Monmouth Park instead of wheeling back quickly in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I).
Plesa, who trains the 4-year-old Lawyer Ron colt for his wife Laurie Plesa and Trilogy Stable, had mentioned the Met Mile as a remote possibility following a comfortable May 24 victory by Itsmyluckyday in the Majestic Light Stakes at the New Jersey oval. However, as expected, he will pass on the quick turnaround for his runner to continue building the foundation for tougher races ahead.
The Met Mile, run on Belmont Stakes (gr. I) day June 7, is expected to draw 2013 Belmont winner Palace Malice, Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I) winner Goldencents, and others including Capo Bastone, Moreno, Normandy Invasion, and Vyjack.
"For me, I just want to have everything as good as possible for all my horses and I don't like to have excuses," Plesa said May 31. "Planning for a race, I try to get the second-guessing out of way. In this case, coming back in two weeks against the caliber of the field that's going to be running...if we get beat, I say to myself, 'Was it too quick?'
"When we do tackle the heaviest heads, so to speak, I'm going to make sure that all the pieces of the puzzle are in place so I get a true indication of where we're at, and don't need an excuse."
Itsmyluckyday is the 2013 Gulfstream Park Derby winner who took that year's Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) over 2012 juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby before finishing second to eventual Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Orb in the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I). He ran a disappointing 15th on a sloppy track in the Kentucky Derby, but returned to good form when 1 3/4 lengths behind Oxbow in the Preakness.
The bay colt came off that runner-up finish in the Preakness to run in the Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth last June, but did not finish after suffering a pelvic fracture that put him out for the rest of the season. He returned from that rest with a fourth in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) in March, and has won twice since then under regular rider Paco Lopez.
"We all like to run against the toughest horses and we all want to prove we have the best, but it has taken a lot of patience on my part and our partners' parts just to do what we would consider the right thing for our horse," Plesa said. "He's passed every test with flying colors, we couldn't have asked him to do anything better than he's done."
According to Plesa, key stakes at Saratoga Race Course such as the Whitney (gr. I) and Woodford (gr. I), could come into play for Itsmyluckyday if all goes well.
"Saratoga's a distinct possibility and the Breeders' Cup is certainly on our radar (at the end of the year)," he said. "I just want to get through this race right now, and before you know it, the summer will be here."