Updated on 03/24/2013 11:37PM

Florida Derby: Itsmyluckyday relaxes nicely in Calder workout

Tom Keyser
Itsmyluckyday, shown working at Calder in February, has not missed a beat in his training since winning the Holy Bull Stakes in January.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Itsmyluckyday has made great strides this winter by learning to relax. He’s obviously taken his cue from his trainer, Eddie Plesa Jr., who remains remarkably calm in the face of all the pressure associated with having a leading Kentucky Derby contender in his barn.

Plesa put the finishing touches on Itsmyluckyday’s preparations for the $1 million Florida Derby when sending his star out to breeze an easy half-mile in 49.40 seconds shortly before dawn Saturday at Calder. Itsmyluckyday began the drill by posting identical 12.47 eighth-mile splits, completing his opening quarter in 24.94, before finishing up willingly without need of urging and continuing on strongly into the turn, galloping out five eighths in 1:02.30 and pulling up six panels in 1:16.79.

“Perfect, just perfect,” Plesa exclaimed. “The good thing about him is the way he’s learning to relax. He doesn’t have to go out there and run as fast as he can any more. I’m very proud of him.”

[DERBY WATCH: Top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders with odds and video]

Plesa opted to pass the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and train Itsmyluckyday up to the Florida Derby following his two-length victory over Shanghai Bobby on Jan. 26 in the Grade 3 Holy Bull. And thus far, everything has gone according to plan.

“If I had to draw a map from then to now regarding his training for the Florida Derby, this is the map I’d have drawn,” said Plesa. “Things couldn’t have gone any smoother. I only hope the post position draw doesn’t get in the way.”

A field of nine 3-year-olds is now expected for the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, including reigning juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby and Fountain of Youth winner Orb. Others pointing for the race are Merit Man, Are You Kidding Me, Frac Daddy, Narvaez, and the Dale Romans trained duo of Pick of the Litter and the maiden Pontiff.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Itsmyluckyday wasn’t Plesa’s only Kentucky Derby hopeful to work in the dark early Saturday at Calder. He also sent out Speak Logistics to zip a sharp half-mile in 47.31 seconds and gallop out five-eighths in 1:00.37. Speak Logistics has not started since finishing a distant third behind Orb and Violence in the Fountain of Youth.

“He missed a work last week because of a slight foot problem but we put the glue-ons [shoes] on him and he looked extremely good with them this morning,” said Plesa. “He went a little faster than I wanted, but he galloped out strong.”

Plesa had originally been pointing Speak Logistics to the Wood Memorial but now has the Blue Grass, the following Saturday, on his radar.

“Tentatively, the Blue Grass is what we’re looking at for him,” said Plesa. “The Wood looks like it’s coming up an extremely tough race and missing a work didn’t help. Going to the Blue Grass would give us a little extra time.”

Java’s War preps for Blue Grass

Trainer Ken McPeek was in Kentucky on Saturday afternoon but he was still in action here during Saturday morning training hours, sending out both his Kentucky Derby hopeful Java’s War and last year’s Travers winner Golden Ticket to breeze after the renovation break.

Java’s War, runner-up in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, went an easy maintenance half-mile in 49.07 seconds before galloping out five-eighths in 1:01.89 over a faster than usual main track. He is expected to make his next start in the Blue Grass.

Golden Ticket worked five furlongs in 59.67 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.02. He is being pointed to Saturday’s Grade 3 Skip Away.

Dustin Ohara More than 1 year ago
This horse will will the fla derby and be one of the counters in ky derby go lucky day
hialeah More than 1 year ago
So there IS a Maiden is in the race - Pontiff. Well, three horses broke their Maiden in the KD and bonus points if you said, " Buchanan (1884), Sir Barton (1919) - the first triple crown winner - and Brokers Tip (1933)." So there is always a chance. Florida Derby time is always special.
Harriet More than 1 year ago
No chance......Lucky crushes this group.
Steve Nick More than 1 year ago
Good to hear the horse is learning to relax in his preps. Hope he didn't peak too soon.
Edward More than 1 year ago
Has there ever been a winner of the Fla Derby, regardless of previous success, who has won that race and would not be considered at the very least a top 10 Derby horse? The most important Derby horses are the ones that run well in the final prep. I don't understand your point at all.
Sam More than 1 year ago
Used to be the colt had to run as a two yr. old in order to win the Derby. Now, you run a maiden in the Fl. Derby, it wins, gets the 100 pts, he's in the Ky Derby and the rest is history.
scott More than 1 year ago
any horse who would win the FL derby is in the KY derby under any system, points or graded earnings.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
I'm trying to say this quietly - Mebbe a trainer is sometimes asked to help fill a race...
scott More than 1 year ago
I hear ya Chad, we have seen that before. If you were the owner, would ever want your horse running over its head to 'fill' a race? Also, do you have any knowledge of what the incentive given to said trainer would be? There has to be a 'i'll scratch your back, you scratch mine' type of exchange here. thanks for any response and happy handicapping.
scott More than 1 year ago
and just thought actually, Romans has done this before on the derby trail. Last year he ran maiden Suns Out Guns Out in the G3 Gotham. He ran 12th. Maybe there is no incentive, maybe they like the pedigree, horse is doing well, taking a stab.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
the real incentive a million dollar race with a short field. And, if you really are doing them a favor, the secretary will write a race for one of yours that you've been having trouble finding a race for.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
And H.C. that's not politics... it's business.
scott More than 1 year ago
go Lucky! Question.....why on Earth would Dale Romans point a maiden to this race? I hope he's not in the gate, that's laughable. Pontiff should run in, say, a Maiden race.
Lisa More than 1 year ago
Looking for that spot in the gate on the first Sat. in May.
ED Broome More than 1 year ago
it couldn't happen to a better guy. all the way!!!!!
violet johnson More than 1 year ago
+1 btw Ed, your a pretty good guy yourself VQ
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Best wishes to The Plesas with Lucky... This one's been a long time coming.
Mike Barker More than 1 year ago