01/30/2012 2:00PM

Gulfstream Park: Ever So Lucky will make 3-year-old debut in Hutcheson

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Barbara D. Livingston
Ever So Lucky will make his 3-year-old debut in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Ever So Lucky, who made everybody’s Kentucky Derby watch list immediately after his sensational maiden win last fall at Churchill Downs, will launch his 3-year-old campaign in the seven-furlong Hutcheson on Feb. 11, trainer Jonathan Sheppard confirmed Monday.

Ever So Lucky, who finished second behind the undefeated Gemologist in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club in his only other start, arrived in south Florida late last week and wasted little time getting down to serious business, working five furlongs in 59.19 seconds over a fast track after the second renovation break Monday at Gulfstream Park.

With regular rider Julien Leparoux aboard, Ever So Lucky broke off 1 1/2 lengths behind stablemate Tapit Express, drew even near the quarter pole after completing his first three-eighths in 36.01, and then gradually pulled four lengths clear at the wire without any urging. Ever So Lucky galloped out three-quarters of a mile in 1:13.01.

“He got a little blow out of it, but you don’t want to overdo it,” Sheppard said while watching Ever So Lucky cool out back at the barn. “He has such an effortless way of going.”

Leparoux was equally impressed.

“He does it very easily, I think he’s even better now than he was before,” Leparoux said. “That was the first time I’ve breezed him behind a horse, and he relaxed really well.”

Sheppard got a little scare after Ever So Lucky developed some heat in his ankle coming out of the Jockey Club. He said one veterinarian told him he thought the horse had a flake in the ankle, but after undergoing a scintigraphy, the problem was diagnosed as simply some bone bruising and roughness in the area.

“It’s the kind of thing that’s not serious but could end up a condylar fracture if you keep going,” Sheppard said. “He’s doing fine now, but it’s something you still have to watch day by day.”

Sheppard said Ever So Lucky, who is owned by George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable, would have one more five-furlong work, scheduled for next Monday, prior to the Hutcheson.

“He’s sort of an in-between horse in my estimation as far as distance is concerned,” Sheppard said. “He’s cut out to be a high-class miler, but because of his relaxed style he can stretch out, although I wouldn’t call him an out-and-out stayer. We’ll just take things one race at a time and see how he progresses. I don’t have any huge obsession to run in the Derby. It would be fun if we do, but I’m not going to run just for the sake of being there. I’m not going to sacrifice the horse to do that, and I think both I and Mr. Strawbridge feel the same way.”