03/09/2013 3:31PM

Gulfstream Park: Itsmyluckyday gets Plesa treatment in workout at Calder

Tom Keyser
Itsmyluckyday is preparing for the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream on March 30.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The “Plesa Mile” is what the Calder clocking crew calls it, those one-mile maintenance works that have been a staple around Eddie Plesa Jr.’s barn for longer than the veteran trainer cares to remember.

Low-level claimer or Kentucky Derby contender, at one time or another almost all of Plesa’s horses get at least one opportunity to do the “Plesa Mile.” On Saturday morning, it was Itsmyluckyday’s turn, the winner of Gulfstream Park’s Grade 3 Holy Bull breezing the distance in 1:46.18 shortly before dawn over his home base at Calder Race Course.

At first it appeared Itsmyluckyday, who is preparing for the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream on March 30, was just out for an easy stroll after covering his opening half mile in a leisurely 55.01 seconds. He began picking up the pace entering the second turn and especially upon getting a little unexpected company when he was joined by an unidentified worker approaching the stretch. Itsmyluckyday completed his final quarter-mile under mild urging in 24.63 seconds before galloping out a strong 1 1/8 miles in 1:59.51.

“He worked exactly liked I wanted him to, did it easily and galloped out nice and strong,” Plesa said. “He picked up a little company, but it didn’t matter because he relaxed. It didn’t shake him up one way or the other, which shows how he’s maturing, getting better, getting stronger.”

Plesa said he likes to breeze his horses a mile from time to time because he feels they get more out of working that distance than they would a half-mile or five-eighths.

“Especially over the racetrack here at Calder. When you work on this track it gets you fit to run over any racetrack,” said Plesa, who is among the winningest trainers in Calder history. “All I’m trying to do is maintain him right now. I wanted to get this into him just because it’s been a little while. He’s ready.”

Despite winning both the Gulfstream Park Derby and the Holy Bull, Itsmyluckyday, who is owned by the Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa, has only 10 qualifying points and will need another big effort in the Grade 1 Florida Derby to earn his way into this year’s Kentucky Derby field.

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

“I’ll be glad when it gets here,” Plesa said about the Florida Derby. “I just had a discussion with the ownership last week, and we decided if for some reason he doesn’t have enough points to get in after this race, we’re not going to push the horse to make it to the Derby. Barring the unforeseen, hopefully we won’t have to worry about that.”

Saturday was a busy morning for the Plesa stable. In addition to working Itsmyluckyday, Plesa also sent out his other Kentucky Derby hopeful, Speak Logistics, to breeze an easy half-mile in 49.58 seconds and the speedy stakes winner Brave Dave three-eighths in 38.20 in his first work back since getting a little time off on the farm earlier this winter.

Plesa is pointing the Centaur Farm-owned Speak Logistics, who finished third in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on Feb. 23, to the Grade 1 Wood at Aqueduct on April 6.

“I was very pleased with the way he worked. He finished up strong and galloped out well,” said Plesa. “I thought he ran a great race, as good as he could, in the Fountain of Youth. He’s got 11 points. It is the Kentucky Derby for that ownership group, and they said let’s give him one more chance and see what happens. If it doesn’t work out, we’ve got a lot of other options.”

Plesa said Joe Bravo will ride Speak Logistics in the Wood.