04/12/2012 3:22PM

Keeneland: Ever So Lucky wound up for Blue Grass


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Some fans may raise eyebrows when a horse works a sizzling five furlongs just four days before a 1 1/8-mile race, but it must be remembered that Jonathan Sheppard did not make the Hall of Fame by accident.

The 71-year-old Englishman sent out Ever So Lucky for a 57-second drill Tuesday in preparation for the Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday in a move prompted partly by the way Ever So Lucky, an Indian Charlie colt, has played catch-up all winter.

“We had a few little hiccups earlier in the spring with him, but now he’s back on track,” said Sheppard. “He seems to be a horse with very good attitude – very rateable, very talented.”

Ever So Lucky, a sales-topping 2-year-old purchase by George Strawbridge Jr. for $600,000 last May, generated a lot of excitement last fall at Churchill Downs with a blow-out maiden victory in his career debut, followed just 15 days later by a gutsy runner-up finish as the favorite in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. But a series of minor ailments followed, and with just a third-place finish in the seven-furlong Swale Stakes so far this year, clearly the colt is behind the proverbial eight ball in making the field for the May 5 Kentucky Derby.

[BLUE GRASS: Get PPs and wager on Saturday's Keeneland card]

Not that Sheppard is worried about making the Derby. In fact, he called Ever So Lucky “unusual” in comparison to his 12 rivals in the Blue Grass because he and Strawbridge don’t have a common case of Derby Fever.

“It’s very unlikely he’ll run in the Derby,” said Sheppard, citing the lack of necessary seasoning and experience. Earnings-wise, “he has to win just to make the field, and we would cross that bridge when we came to it. But I would doubt it.”

Ever So Lucky, with Julien Leparoux to ride, is listed as a 12-1 chance breaking from post 11 in the 88th Blue Grass.

Marketing Mix scores in return

Marketing Mix scarcely could have been more impressive in winning here Wednesday following a layoff of nearly five months. The 4-year-old filly broke from post 11 in the one-mile turf allowance, rated kindly under Leparoux, then outran Inglorious, Hungry Island, and Ravi’s Song to win the $61,613 race by 1 1/4 lengths for her fifth victory in 10 career starts.

“She ran awful big,” said Tom Proctor, who trains Marketing Mix for his longtime clients, Glen Hill Farm. “She was giving them all five pounds, she had the 11-hole, and she hadn’t run in a while. I am really pleased.”

Proctor said “the next logical step” for the filly is the Grade 2, $200,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

Super High Five pays $100K

After carrying over through the two-day opening weekend, the entire Super High Five pool fell to one high-rolling horseplayer when action resumed Wednesday when One Last Nitemare (3-1) won the eighth-race finale, followed home by horses at odds of 79-1, 14-1, 4-5, and 9-2. The 5-6-1-7-11 combination was worth a tidy $100,319.60 for a $1 bet.

Keeneland mutuels officials said the winning ticket cost $4,681 and was purchased through Racing and Gaming Services, an offshore gaming site based in St. Kitts.

◗ For the record, the program here Wednesday was the first eight-race card at Keeneland since 1987, according to Julie Balog, director of communications. It was abbreviated as a means to accommodate the 12 races that will be run Saturday as the most in track history.