03/08/2012 3:15PM

Gulfstream Park: Ever So Lucky gets season started in Swale

Tom Keyser
Ever So Lucky will make his first start of 2012 in Saturday's Grade 3 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The winter hasn’t gone quite as smoothly as trainer Jonathan Sheppard had hoped for Ever So Lucky, but the Hall of Fame horseman will finally take the wraps off his top 3-year-old prospect when sending him out against nine rivals in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Swale at Gulfstream Park.

Ever So Lucky was considered among the leading Kentucky Derby contenders wintering in south Florida when the New Year began. But a week’s worth of rain prior to his first scheduled start in the Grade 2 Hutcheson on Feb. 11 and a couple of very minor physical issues have kept Ever So Lucky grounded until now.

Ever So Lucky gained immediate attention after launching his career with an easy 3 1/4-length maiden win at Churchill Downs on Nov. 11. He returned just 15 days later to finish second behind the undefeated Gemologist going 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, after which he was stopped on briefly due to some minor bone bruising.

Sheppard shipped Ever So Lucky, who is owned by George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable, to Gulfstream in early January, and he’s worked spectacularly at times in between a couple of short but unscheduled gaps in his training regimen.

“I met with Mr. Strawbridge in Camden, South Carolina, the night before last, and we decided we’d probably better go ahead and run him in the Swale,” Sheppard said Thursday. “There is an allowance race in the book next week, but it’s at a mile and you never know if it’s going to fill. The horse has been a bit confused working and stopping, working and stopping, but his last work was pretty strong, so I figured he’d handle this race okay.”

Sheppard also was happy to learn that trainer Todd Pletcher decided to pass the Swale with Hutcheson winner Thunder Moccasin.

“Todd’s horse is one we weren’t likely to beat right off the bat,” Sheppard said. “This is a solid field of horses, but no superstars, and while our horse is not primed for a major trip, I need to get him started and this looks like a good place. Hopefully, he’ll be able to get a nice stalking position towards the outside just off the pace, and then we’ll see what happens when they turn for home.”

Joe Bravo will replace regular rider Julien Leparoux, who will be in Tampa on Saturday, aboard Ever So Lucky.

The Swale also kicks off the 3-year-old campaigns of Motor City and Trinniberg.

Motor City has not started since winning the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs on Oct. 30. The stretch-running Motor City has been training steadily for his return at Palm Meadows.

“He’s a confirmed closer, which may not help at Gulfstream, but we’ve got to get started someplace and he’s ready to run,” said Ian Wilkes who trains the homebred Motor City for Lantern Hill Farm LLC.

Trinniberg has been away since finishing seventh after contesting the early pace in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint. Trinniberg finished second in both the Grade 1 Hopeful and Grade 2 Nashua at 2.

Trinniberg will race without blinkers for the first time in the Swale.

Trainer Dale Romans has entered a pair, Quick Wit and Seve, but said he was uncertain if both would start. Quick Wit was a distant third behind Thunder Moccasin in the Hutcheson, while Seve recently finished second in a seven-furlong optional claiming race.

Musical Flair, Hello Prince, and Silver Menace finished first, second, and fourth, respectively, in the Needles Stakes on the grass earlier this winter, while Bahamian Squall and Good Morning Diva are both coming off impressive maiden wins.

Swale S. (G3), Post Time: 5:35 ET Saturday

Purse: $150,000; 7 furlongs





ML Odds


Quick Wit

D. Romans

A. Solis




B. Parboo

W. Martinez



Silver Menace

K. Ritvo

R. Dominguez



Motor City

I. Wilkes

E. Prado



Hello Prince

D. Pita

J. Garcia



Bahamian Squall

D. Fawkes

L. Saez



Ever So Lucky

J. Sheppard

J. Bravo



Musical Flair

S. Santoro

J. Leyva




D. Romans

K. Desormeaux



Good Morning Diva

J. Braddy

R. Maragh