07/06/2014 7:03PM

Itsmyluckyday continues revival by taking Salvator Mile

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Itsmyluckyday, under Paco Lopez, collects his third straight victory in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Itsmyluckyday cocked his head to the right in deep stretch, as if to acknowledge the grandstand crowd on Sunday at Monmouth Park

“Yes, I’m back,” he seemed to be saying.  “And by the way, I’ve got this Salvator Mile wrapped up.”

Itsmyluckyday extended his winning streak to three with a 1 1/2-length victory over Bradester in the Grade 3, $160,500 Salvator.

The win was another building block in the comeback that trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. hopes will carry Itsmyluckyday to the top level of the handicap division.

Itsmyluckyday was a leading 3-year-old last season, the runner-up in both the Florida Derby and the Preakness. The campaign ended abruptly when Itsmyluckyday suffered a pelvic injury here in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes. He endured a prolonged period of enforced stall rest as the damage healed.

The Salvator was his fourth race back. He had the misfortune of encountering Palace Malice in his return, the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in March.

Itsmyluckyday was fourth that day, not a bad effort against the acknowledged leader of the division.

“When you look at that race, and dissect that race, it was not a bad effort on his part,” Plesa said. “We’ve built from that race. We’re taking it one step at a time. There is no doubt in my mind he’s a quality horse, never has been. I think he’s proven that each and every time he gets on the racetrack.”

Since Gulfstream Park Handicap, Itsmyluckyday won the Best of the Rest at Gulfstream, the Majestic Light at Monmouth, and now the Salvator.

The latest was unquestionably the toughest challenge the three.

“It was another test and he passed it with an A-plus,” Plesa said.

The Salvator trip wasn’t an easy. Into the first turn, Itsmyluckyday had plenty of company.

“He was laying fourth behind a wall of horses,” Plesa said. “He didn’t panic. He did what he was supposed to do.”

Approaching the final bend, Paco Lopez angled Itsmyluckyday into the three-path for a wide trip all the way to the top of the lane.

Itsmyluckyday then wrested the lead from Bradester and Valid in upper stretch.

He was on his way, except for that unexpected lurch to the right.

“He might have been looking for Paco to pull him up, like he did in the last two races,” Plesa said. “It’s a bad thing to do. Am I blaming Paco? No. Are you going to see Paco do that again, like he did in the two previous races? Absolutely not.”

Plesa said the next target will be the Grade 2, $200,000 Monmouth Cup on July 27, part of the Haskell Invitational undercard.

The time was 1:34.88 on the fast track under warm, sunny skies. Itsmyluckyday paid $4.40 to win.

Valid was third followed by Don Dulce, Code West, Raging Daoust (last year’s Salvator winner), Dawly, Sailor’s Revenge, and Elnaawi.



mikey More than 1 year ago
With what's racing today he can win a lot of money.All he has to do is stay at monmouth Park.Plesa will be careful with him look who owns him.
Andrew More than 1 year ago
He was just saying Whats Up to the crowd
Dee R. Eff More than 1 year ago
Richard, I agree with most of what you said but I look at it like Plesa did and happy that he doesn't want him eased like that. Lucky is a smart horse, he is push button, he will do exactly what is asked him when asked, and because he's a smart horse he might now be looking to be eased late in the lane. He is trying to get him fit for longer races, and this being only a mile, he only ran a bit more than 7 furlongs. Once it's over, sure take it easy, but keep him running through the wire and let him gallop out strong. When Paco picks him up he does what is asked and really slows down and doesn't get as much out of it as he could and might expect that. If Paco wants to do that at a 1 1/8 or longer that's fine, but not at a mile. As far as injury, galloping strong through the wire is safer than coming to a crawl then being asked to go again. He wasn't mad at Paco, he didn't blame him, but I agree with Plesa, at one mile he definitely should have run him through the wire, it's not like he was sticking and driving, he was running easy.
Richard Holmes More than 1 year ago
A lot of these trainers are not very smart. Instead of being thrilled that Paco Lopez has been gearing the horse down each race and saving him for future races, Eddie Plesa was mad about it. Plesa said, "It's a bad thing to do." What is he smoking? Does Plesa think you get paid extra for winning by a bigger margin? The harder a horse runs, the more likely the horse is to get hurt. If a jockey is winning easily, he should always gear the horse down. Ramon Dominguez always did this and that was one of the reasons his horses came back so often and won the next time. He always tried to save something for next time. Any time I see a jockey gear a horse down, I know that jockey is smart and understands horses. Paco Lopez is obviously very smart and understands horses. Plesa should have been thrilled that Paco cares about the horse and is saving him for next time. Plesa is worried that the horse is going to get into bad habits if he is geared down. That is ridiculous, especially with this horse. This horse is push-button and he will do whatever the jockey wants him to do. Plesa was right that the horse pulled himself up a little bit when Paco went still on him. But right when Paco just shook the reigns a little bit, the horse took off again. This horse will do whatever you want him to do. If I were Plesa, I would tell Paco he is doing a great job with this horse and to keep riding him the way he's been riding him.
Richard Holmes More than 1 year ago
I just checked his stats. Paco Lopez has 62 wins from 202 mounts at Monmouth. That is a 31% win percentage. That is incredible. He regularly gears down horses and that is one of the reasons his win percentage is so high. But according to Plesa, gearing down horses is "a bad thing to do." LOL.
mike More than 1 year ago
Agree with everything you said,it's a boneheaded comment on Plesa's part.
Edward More than 1 year ago
NO kidding. To top it off the horse wasn't looking to be pulled up, he was simply gawking at the crowd and then the jock got his attention back. Strange to see a horseman talk like that.
Edward More than 1 year ago
Or maybe he should run hi in more competitive spots where the horse isn't winning for fun for low purses.
mike More than 1 year ago
Edward I agree with you regarding comment about Plesa.
Andrew More than 1 year ago
I think that easing him everytime could lead to a bad habit for the horse and the horse may learn to ease himself up after taking the lead
Dee R. Eff More than 1 year ago
Exactly, this is a smart horse who will learn what you teach him. At just a mile, let him run through the wire. He was doing it easy with style, let him keep doing it easy without picking him up.
Richard Holmes More than 1 year ago
It's a luxury to be able to gear a horse down. It's not that often that your horse is so much the best that you don't need to ask him. You usually need to ask a horse for everything. And horses are so fragile these days that very few of them can run really hard for more than 4-5 races in a row. On the rare occasion when you can win without asking a horse for his best, you should always take advantage of that because a horse only has a limited number of hard races in him. When you can have an easy race like Itsmyluckyday had, that is great. You know he will probably come out of that race in good shape. The jock could have ridden him hard and won by 5 lengths. Why would he want to do that? That would turn an easy race on the horse into a hard race on the horse. He will have plenty of hard races ahead. No need to have a hard race when you don't need to. I'm very bullish on this horse going forward. I think he's right up there near the top of the handicap division. I don't think anyone can beat Palace Malice right now, but aside from him I think Itsmyluckyday is near the top of the list. I'm not sure if Itsmyluckyday can get 1 1/4 miles. That might be stretching it a little bit for him. He can definitely get 1 1/8 miles.
Richard Holmes More than 1 year ago
That's not going to happen. The horse will do whatever the jock asks him. Paco didn't have to ask him for much when he wanted the horse to re-focus. He didn't have to whip him or even vigorously hand-ride him. He just barely shook the reins and the horse took off again. When you have a horse that is that sensitive and that responsive to a jockey, that is not a horse that you need to worry about getting lazy. It's not going to happen with that type of horse.
mike More than 1 year ago
Ok,waiting for someone to say he didn't beat much. (eye roll)
Scott More than 1 year ago
LOL! I'll say it: *he didn't beat much. * I think it deserves an asterisk though, because they're still trying to figure out where he belongs and making sure he's all the way back. There's nothing wrong with making money while you do that. The simple fact is that he's a nice horse that will always need to be looked at when running at 9F's or less. I don't think he's a threat to ever win at the longer distances. I guess it is his connections lucky day that most races these days aren't run at the longer distances.
tim More than 1 year ago
The horse who ran 2nd, Bradester is a nice horse. That was a good effort off the layoff following a horrible couple races in a row. Bradester will be very tough in his next race and I can not wait to bet him.
Eric Rickard More than 1 year ago
Always liked him. I think iy might be time to step it up. The competition that is. Hope to see continued improvement.