If Jonathan Sheppard could ever get Ever So Lucky started, he might find out if the colt is a legitimate Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender. Hopefully, he will finally get a chance March 10 in the $150,000 Swale (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park.
After much deliberation, Ever So Lucky has been entered in the seven-furlong contest, where he is scheduled to meet nine other sophomores. Fortunately for the son of Indian Charlie, he will not have to face Thunder Moccasin, the runaway winner of the Feb. 11 Hutcheson (gr. II).
Ever So Lucky was supposed to make his season debut in the Hutcheson but Sheppard—probably wisely—decided the colt needed a little more time for his season debut and scratched him on the morning of the race. He then missed a scheduled work in mid-February because of a bruised foot, making it iffy as to whether or not he’d be ready for the Swale.
But after a five-furlong bullet work in :58 4/5 March 3 at Gulfstream, the Hall of Fame trainer decided he was ready.
“I’d be lying if I was saying I wasn’t somewhat apprehensive, which is understandable I think,” Sheppard said March 6. “Things haven’t gone exactly as I would have liked since his last race and he is coming off a pretty long layoff in a graded stakes.
“I really didn’t think he would be ready for this race after the bruised foot; I thought it would take two really nice works. But after the first work (Feb. 21, five furlongs in :1:00 3/5), he went particularly well and seemed to recover quite quickly from it. We were still running out of time at that point, but there really aren’t a lot of other options besides an allowance race. And then after his last work I decided he was ready.”
Ever So Lucky started just twice as a juvenile, rolling to a 3 1/4-length maiden win in November at Churchill Downs and then finishing a close second to Gemologist in the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) two weeks later. The speedy colt, owned by Augustin Stable, will be ridden by Joe Bravo from post 7.
Another highly regarded 3-year-old making his season debut is Lantern Hill Farm’s homebred Motor City. The son of Street Sense will be making his first start since winning the Iroquois (gr. III) Oct. 30 at Churchill Downs for trainer Ian Wilkes.
Motor City also won a maiden race at Ellis Park and was third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) as a juvenile. Edgar Prado has the riding assignment.
“He is a confirmed closer, which may not help him at Gulfstream,” said Wilkes. “But he’s got to get started someplace and he’s ready to run. He’s been a gelding since before he ever raced, so we don’t feel we have to make any one race or another.”
Another coming back in the Swale with graded stakes experience is Shivananda Parbhoo’s Trinniberg, who makes his first start since a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs in November. The son of Teuflesberg finished second in both the Hopeful (gr. I) at Saratoga and Nashua (gr. II) at Belmont Park prior to that.
Like Motor City, Hello Prince and Musical Flair will also carry top weight of 121 pounds. Musical Flair has won a pair of turf sprints, including the Feb. 4 Needles Stakes at Gulfstream. He enters off an eighth-place effort in a turf stakes at Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 18. Juan Leyva will have the mount.
Hello Prince won a pair of sprints at his home base of Calder to end his juvenile campaign, including the Birdonthewire Stakes. He crossed the wire second but was disqualified and placed sixth for interference in the Needles, which was his season debut. Jose Garcia will ride for Daniel Pita.
Trainer Cathy Ritvo will run Mucho Macho Man in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II), but will also have a contender in the Swale with Silver Menace. The roan/gray colt by Silver Wagon finished an even fourth last out in the Needles.
$150,000 Swale (gr. III, Race 11, 5:35 p.m.), 3YO, 7 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Quick Wit (KY), A O Solis, 115, D L Romans
2. Trinniberg (KY), W Martinez, 115, B Parboo
3. Silver Menace (KY), R A Dominguez, 117, K Ritvo
4. Motor City (KY), E S Prado, 121, I R Wilkes
5. Hello Prince (FL), J A Garcia, 121, D Pita
6. Bahamian Squall (FL), L Saez, 115, D Fawkes
7. Ever So Lucky (KY), J Bravo, 115, J E Sheppard
8. Musical Flair (KY), J C Leyva, 121, S Santoro
9. Seve (KY), K J Desormeaux, 115, D L Romans
10. Good Morning Diva (KY), R Maragh, 115, J D Braddy