04/30/2013 1:32PM

Kentucky Derby: Itsmyluckyday thrives in cooler climate at Churchill Downs

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Eddie Plesa (right), at the shed row with Itsmyluckyday on Tuesday, says his horse has adapted well since arriving from Florida.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. had his hands full simply trying to walk his Kentucky Derby hopeful Itsmyluckyday around the shed row at feed time on Monday. His exercise rider, Peter Shelton, had a similar problem trying to keep the Florida Derby runner-up from running off during  training hours the following morning.

Plesa said Itsmyluckyday couldn’t have adapted any better to his new surroundings at Churchill Downs or, even more important, the racetrack itself, following his arrival from Calder on Saturday.

[2013 KENTUCKY DERBY: Get PPs, contender profiles, live updates]

“He always takes a nice hold, although he seemed to be just a tad more aggressive today,” Plesa said a short while after Itsmyluckyday’s impressive-looking gallop on Tuesday. “I think the cooler weather helps him. You see horses leave Florida and come up here and they all seem to like it. I’d rather see him aggressive like that than just going through the motions. You see some horses out there and they just don’t look comfortable. They’re all out there going around, but some look better than others.”

Plesa said he remains unconcerned by the fact Itsmyluckyday’s final Derby work, a half-mile in 53 seconds last Thursday at Calder, did not go according to plan. That followed a sharp 1:43.20 mile drill one week earlier.

“The work’s not going to make a difference between him winning or losing the race, in my mind,” said Plesa. “I was looking for about a 50, but I preach to all my riders I’d rather have you go too slow than too fast. And that was just the case. It might have led people to believe there’s a problem with the horse. But as you can see since he got here, there’s no problem with him. He couldn’t be doing better.”