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Gulfstream Park: Itsmyluckyday tests versatility in Dania Beach
By Mike Welsch
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. already knows Itsmyluckyday is stakes quality on the dirt. Now he wants to find out if his promising 2-year-old is capable of winning stakes races on grass as well.
Plesa will get an answer to that question Saturday at Gulfstream Park when Itsmyluckyday takes on nine rivals in the $100,000 Dania Beach, a one-mile race that is the first 2-year-old stakes on turf of the 2012-13 meeting.
Itsmyluckyday rallied to win the five-furlong Fasig-Tipton Turf Dash, a race switched to a sloppy main track due to rain, and the one mile and 70-yard Foolish Pleasure earlier this summer at Calder. In his last start, Itsmyluckyday was not so lucky in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot, finishing a non-threatening sixth following an eventful trip.
Itsmyluckyday has made one previous start on grass, finishing a late-running third in Monmouth Park’s five-furlong Tyro on Aug. 5.
“He handled the turf well the only time he tried it,” said Plesa, who trains Itsmyluckyday for his wife, Laurie, and the Triology Stable. “He was coming on strong at the end, and had the race been a little longer he’d have won it. I’m just tossing out the Delta race. It’s a weird racetrack to begin with, he got bumped around and shuffled back on the first turn, made a wide move to get into contention, then flattened out.”
Plesa said he opted to run Itsmyluckyday in the Dania Beach rather than await his second option, the Gulfstream Park Derby going a mile on the main track here New Year’s Day.
“I just wanted to find out right now if he was stakes quality on grass,” said Plesa. “If I wasn’t confident he could handle the turf, I would have tried this experiment at a later date.”
Itsmyluckyday will carry high weight of 120 pounds in the Dania Beach. He faces a group that includes the graded stakes-placed Charming Kitten, sprint stakes winners Tate’s Landing and Mystic Love, and Hard to Name, who is trained by Plesa’s brother-in-law John Servis.
Charming Kitten returns to the grass after finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, a race in which his chances were severely compromised when he was soundly bumped while attempting to launch a bid from between horses at the top of the stretch. A homebred son of Kitten’s Joy, Charming Kitten finished third in his start before the Breeders’ Futurity, Saratoga’s Grade 2 With Anticipation, after having won his career debut five weeks earlier at the Spa.
Tate’s Landing will stretch out around two turns for the first time after capturing the 5 1/2-furlong Laurel Futurity in his previous start.
Mystic Love will take on males if she competes in the Dania Beach. Mystic Love won the filly counterpart to the Laurel Futurity, the Selima, with a strong rally from the rear of the pack, and like Tate’s Landing will race beyond six furlongs for the first time on Saturday.
Hard to Name is a steadily improving colt who brings a two-race winning streak into the Dania Beach but has yet to run on grass or farther than seven furlongs.
Reporting Star seeks to bounce back from a fourth-place finish as the 4-5 favorite in Calder’s Appleton Juvenile Turf. Reporting Star was an impressive 7 1/2-length maiden winner on grass in his only other start.
A great race to bet since none of these has a history in graded grass racing. One of them can emerge as a grass star, but you can't know that yet. The horse that has shown the most speed, albeit on the dirt, is Hard to Name. His 5 furlong breeze on the grass indicates that his connections liked what they saw or he would have been entered somewhere else. Servis isn't Larry, Moe or Curley Joe so my money's on his entry.
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