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Rick Samuels

Pegasus Next Up for Verrazano, Itsmyluckyday

Triple Crown contenders to clash in Haskell Stakes prep June 16 at Monmouth Park.

Triple Crown contenders Verrazano  and Itsmyluckyday  head a seven-horse field entered in the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds June 16 at Monmouth Park.

Verrazano, winner of the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) as the 4-5 choice for Lets Go Stable and partners, was 14th last time out in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 4.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the More Than Ready  colt was undefeated in four starts prior to the Kentucky Derby and was one of the favorites at odds of 8-1. But he weakened badly in the final three-sixteenths of a mile after pressing a wicked pace over the demanding 1 1/4-mile distance on sloppy and sealed Churchill Downs oval.

Verrazano won the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) in front-running style prior to his victory in the Wood, which was accomplished in a similar manner.

Since moving from Churchill Downs to New York last month, Verrazano has posted three moves over the Belmont Park dirt training track. His most recent breeze, at four furlongs June 9, was timed in :47.41, fastest of 51 on the morning.

Pletcher has won the 1 1/16-mile Pegasus twice previously, in 2005 with Magna Graduate  and 2008 with with Atoned.

Itsmyluckyday ran second to Oxbow  in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 18 when he made a bold move while racing wide before flattening out in the stretch drive. That effort followed a rough 15th-place finish in the Derby.

Eddie Plesa Jr. trains the son of Lawyer Ron for his wife, Laurie, and Trilogy Stable. Itsmyluckyday won the Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park earlier this year, followed by a runner-up finish to Kentucky Derby winner Orb  in the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) March 30.

Itsmyluckyday has posted a pair of workouts at Monmouth since the Preakness. In his most recent one June 7, he breezed five furlongs on a muddy strip in 1:01 1/5.

Verrazano and Itsmyluckyday will each carry top weight weight of 123 pounds for the Pegasus and will have Hall of Fame jockeys. Verrazano drew the rail and will be ridden by John Velazquez, who has been aboard the bay colt for all of his starts thus far. Itsmylucky starts from post 6 with a new rider, Mike Smith. Velazquez rode Itsmyluckyday in the Preakness.

"Ideally on paper, we'd like to see a fast pace," said Plesa. "This is when a jockey like Mike Smith can make the difference. It becomes a jockey's race. You just hope you put him on the best horse and see what happens."

The Pegasus, an important prep for the $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth July 28, will go as race 11 of 12 on Sunday’s Father’s Day card. Post time for the Pegasus is 6 p.m. EDT.

"This race has been our target since before the Preakness," Plesa said of Itsmyluckyday. "He's coming into it excellent. The 3-year-old picture is wide open for about a half dozen horses so far. The Haskell is the goal. I haven't looked past that yet."

Trainer Kathleen O'Connell has entered the coupled entry of Reporting Star and Kanturk Kid for Florida owner/breeder Gilbert G. Campbell.

Reporting Star is coming off his fourth consecutive third-place showing in the Mambo Meister Stakes on grass at Calder Casino & Race Course May 12. The Circular Quay gelding was also third in the Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) on turf at Gulfstream in March. Kanturk Kid, a state-bred stakes winner for at Calder in November, was fourth last time in the Mambo Meister. Angel Serpa is named to ride both.

Olympia Star's Gefest was placed third in the Arlington Classic (gr. IIT) on the turf May 25 in his first start for trainer Gennadi Dorochenko. Edge of Reality and Bethel both won allowance races over off-tracks in their most recent starts.

$150,000 Pegasus Stakes (gr. III, Race 11, 6 p.m.), 3YOs, 1 1/16 Miles          
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Verrazano (KY), J R Velazquez, 123, T A Pletcher
2. Edge of Reality (PA), S Elliott, 118, A W Dutrow
3. Gefest (KY), H Karamanos, 118, G Dorochenko
4. a-Reporting Star (FL), A Serpa, 116, K O'Connell
5. Bethel (KY), B Pedroza, 116, G Dorochenko
6. Itsmyluckyday (KY), M E Smith, 123, E Plesa Jr.
7. a-Kanturk Kid (FL), A Serpa, 116, K O'Connell
a- coupled entry