After swapping grade I decisions this summer at Saratoga Race Course, it appears that a third match-up between Woodward Stakes winner Itsmyluckyday and runner-up Moreno will have to await the $5 million Breeders Cup Classic (gr. I).
Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., speaking the morning after the hard-fought Woodward, indicated that Itsmyluckyday is likely to skip the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Sept. 27 at Belmont Park after his effort in the 1 1/8-mile event. Itsmyluckyday won the Woodward by half a length following a head-and-head stretch duel.
Meanwhile, trainer Eric Guillot said Moreno would definitely be pointed to the Gold Cup.
Both trainers said their horses came back in good shape following their epic confrontation Saturday. The race was a rematch of the Whitney Invitational (gr. I) won earlier in the meet by Moreno by 1 1/4 lengths over Itsmyluckyday.
"He came out of the race 110%," Plesa said of Itsmyluckyday. "A little tired but, as far as wear and tear, 110%."
For the time being, Plesa said he does not have the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup in the plans for the 4-year-old son of Lawyer Ron, but he left the door open to the possibility.
"My thinking is I don't want to run four races in a row that are going to be that tough; that would include if we're going to run in the Breeders' Cup," said the Monmouth Park-based trainer. "I like to give my horses a little bit of a break. If the ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup, I have to be sure we're going into the race 110%. I don't want to think we've maybe run him one too many. The great Horatio Luro said, 'You don't want to squeeze the lemon too dry.' "
Itsmyluckyday has started six times since March following an eight-month absence after sustaining a fractured pelvis last year.
Sold to Spendthrift Farm for his stallion career once his running days are over, Itsmyluckyday is not Breeders’ Cup nominated. It would cost owners Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa $200,000 to be supplemented to the Classic.
Plesa said the $400,000 Kelso (gr. II) at a mile on the same card as the Jockey Club Gold Cup could be an option, as is the $300,000 Awesome Again (gr. I) Sept. 27 at Santa Anita Park, site of the Breeders' Cup.
"He'll tell me," Plesa said. "He could come out bucking and kicking and saying, 'I'm ready to run again. That's my job to figure out when that is."
Guillot said the Jockey Club Gold Cup is his primary target.
"I always was planning that," he said. "Thirty days, 30 days, 30 days, babysit him, babysit him, run him. The horse hasn't been out of form since he broke his maiden."
Guillot, while finishing second a day earlier, was in a boastful mood Sunday morning.
"He'll win the (Breeders' Cup) Classic by five; you all can put it in the press," he said of Moreno.
Asked why, Guillot answered, "Because I said it."