The result of the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) had nothing to do
with luck Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Itsmyluckyday
two-length decision over previously undefeated Shanghai Bobby fair and
A week after being honored as the Thoroughbred sport’s champion
2-year-old of 2012, Shanghai Bobby was the even-money favorite to win
his sixth straight race in the Grade 3 stakes for Florida Derby and
Kentucky Derby hopefuls. The Todd Pletcher-trained champion seemed to be
well positioned in the No. 1 post to make a victorious 3-year-old debut
in the 1 1/16-mile stakes, but the Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained Itsmyluckday
unleashed an impressive performance that broke the favorite’s
undefeated streak, as well as a Gulfstream track record.
“Words can’t describe it. It’s something everybody should feel.
Anybody in this game deserves to have this feeling. I wish them all to
have this feeling sometime….just not today,” said Plesa, a longtime
South Florida-based trainer following his fourth stakes victory of the
Itsmyluckyday, the 9-2 third choice who captured the $100,000
Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.81
to eclipse Endorsement’s 2012 record of 1:42.35.
“The winner was very good today. We were second best. We got a good
trip and didn’t expect to break the track record by three-fifths of a
second in order to win,” Pletcher said. “I was happy. We got the trip.
We got the trip we anticipated.”
Shanghai Bobby, who concluded his 2012 campaign with a victory in
the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, broke alertly from
his inside post to grab the early lead in the short run to the first
turn under jockey Rosie Napravnik. Itsmyluckyday also broke well from
the No. 7 post under Elvis Trujillo to gain a stalking position behind
Shanghai Bobby and Clearly Now without losing too much ground on the
first turn. That trio continued to show the way in the 10-horse field
along the backstretch before Trujillo sent his mount after the
pacesetter on the final turn. The son of Lawyer Ron pulled alongside
Shanghai Bobby leaving the turn into the stretch and steadily drew away
from the game pacesetter to the finish.
“I’m very thankful for Mr. Plesa, who gave me the opportunity to
ride Itsmyluckyday,” said Trujillo, who rode the Kentucky-bred for the
first time Saturday after Paco Lopez honored a commitment to ride
troubled fifth-place finisher Bern Identity. “This was the trip Mr.
Plesa and I hoped for.”
Trujillo heeded Plesa’s pre-race advice to a ‘T.’
“I told Elvis, ‘If you’re seven-wide on the first turn and four-wide
heading for home, you’re not going to win the race.' I just wanted the
best horse to win the race; I believe that’s what happened today. I
didn’t see anybody that had any big excuses as far as wide trips. That’s
what I wanted for our horse; I wanted a fair chance to win the race,”
Shanghai Bobby easily finished second, 11 ½ lengths ahead of Clearly Now and jockey Luis Saez.
“He ran well. He was relaxed on the lead and went right to the front
today,” said Napravnik, who has been aboard Shanghai Bobby in all his
starts. “When the other horse came to him, he tried really hard.”
Joshua’s Comprise, the longest shot at 132-1, finished fourth,
followed by second choice Bern Identity, Frac Daddy, Dewey Square, Sr.
Quisqueyano, Tulira Castle, and Fredricksburg.
Itsmyluckyday, who earned $240,000 for his victory, is owned by
Plesa’s wife, Laurie and Trilogy Stable (Marion Montanari and David
“We’ll see how he comes out of the race, but I’d lean toward the
Florida Derby (March 30),” said Plesa of the Gulfstream’s $1 million
3-year-old showcase. “But he’s going to tell me what he wants to do.
Then I’ll sit down with our partners and we’ll discuss it.”
The Holy Bull victory makes Itsmyluckyday a high profile 3-year-old on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
“Everybody’s excited because of the Kentucky Derby. It’s hard not to
get wrapped up in that,” Plesa said. “I know (for) Marion Montanari and
David Melin, this is on their bucket list.”
Bern Identity, a multiple graded-stakes winner, and Dewey Square,
who had finished third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in his last
start, both had excuses that compromised their performances.
“We put in a lot of hard work coming into this race and then it
turns out it was all for naught because of the trouble right out of the
gate,” said trainer Kelly Breen, whose colt was bumped repeatedly by Sr.
Quisqueyano. “We’ll just go back to the drawing board and regroup.”
Romans said his colt didn’t handle dirt hitting him in the face.
“I know we have a good horse and we’re just going to stay the course,” trainer Dale Romans said.