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Monmouth Park: Verrazano romps in Pegasus; Itsmyluckyday injured
OCEANPORT, N.J. – Verrazano is back, rebounding from a 14th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby to easily win the Grade 3, $148,500 Pegasus Stakes for 3-year-olds Sunday at Monmouth Park.
Itsmyluckyday wasn’t as fortunate. The runner-up to Oxbow in the Preakness, Itsmyluckyday was pulled up on the backstretch with a left hind injury. He was vanned back to his stall in Eddie Plesa Jr.’s barn.
“There is nothing obvious we can pinpoint at the moment,” Plesa said. “We’re taking a series of X-rays. So far, no fractures are evident.”
The race before a Father’s Day crowd of 28,951 was the first major stakes for 3-year-olds following the Triple Crown. It featured a showdown between two talented colts who had met once before in the Derby. Itsmyluckyday finished 15th in the slop at Churchill Downs on May 4, one position behind Verrazano.
On paper, the Pegasus was a one-on-one matchup between those two. And for a brief moment, it was.
Verrazano, as expected, grabbed the early lead in the 1 1/16-mile race. Itsmyluckyday, ridden by Mike Smith for the first time, broke from the outside slot in the five-horse field and was fanned wide entering the first turn before settling into stalking position.
With Verrazano and John Velazquez cruising along on an open lead, Smith sent Itsmyluckyday after the leader with five furlongs to run.
The showdown everyone anticipated vanished in an instant, as Itsmyluckyday took a bad step and Smith quickly slammed on the brakes.
“He was cruising up there, and all of a sudden, ‘What was that?’ Then I grabbed a hold of him,” Smith said. “The leg was intact; he just wouldn’t put weight on it. Maybe he just pulled a stifle. That’s what I’m hoping for.”
With the main competition stunningly out of the running, Verrazano rolled to an easy win as the 2-5 favorite. He improved to 5 for 6 with his third stakes win, following the Grade 1 Wood Memorial and the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.
Verrazano finished 9 1/4 lengths in front of 37-1 longshot Reporting Star, with Bethel third and Gefest fourth. The time was 1:41.72 on the fast track under overcast skies.
Trainer Todd Pletcher selected the Pegasus as Verrazano’s comeback following the Derby, with the long-range target of the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational here July 28 in mind.
So far, Verrazano is right on target, having had a relatively stress-free tour of the track.
“There didn’t look to be a lot of speed in the race,” Velazquez said. “I talked to Todd this morning, and he said to just come out running and make them chase you. I’m very happy to have him back, to have him perform the way he did it today.”
Velazquez has been racing’s man in motion. He captured his 5,000th career win in North America on Friday at Belmont Park. This was his second straight successful Sunday trip to the Jersey Shore, having captured the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes with Boisterous last weekend.
As he trotted through the tunnel back to the jockeys’ room, Velazquez was already focusing on the next assignment: Animal Kingdom on Tuesday at Royal Ascot. He had only four hours, and the prospect of lots of traffic on the New York metropolitan area’s congested roadways and bridges, to motor from Monmouth to John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens for the flight to England.
“It’s been a very exciting weekend, and now I have to rush to make the plane,” Velazquez said.
It was the third Pegasus win for Pletcher, following scores with Magna Graduate (2005) and Atoned (2008). Velazquez rode Magna Graduate, giving him two victories in the stakes.
Edge of Reality and Kanturk Kid, the two Pegasus scratches, are slated to run in second-level allowance races. Edge of Reality goes Monday in a one-mile race at Parx. Kanturk Kid runs here Friday on the turf.
• Richiefromshoprite was the 16-1 upset winner of the $67,200 Dan Horn Handicap for New Jersey-breds on the turf Sunday. He set the pace in the one-mile race, beating Hop Skip and Away by 2 3/4 lengths with Gabriel Saez aboard for trainer Stacy Machiz.
• Monmouth jockey fines and suspensions: Saez starts a seven-calendar-day suspension for careless riding Monday. Pedro Solano (June 21-23) and Samuel Camacho Jr. (June 30-July 4) each were suspended for three Monmouth racing days for careless riding. Apprentice Manuel Franco was fined $2,000 for careless riding.
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not sure how anyone can say verrazano is back, because of a visually impressive win over claimers. a grade one caliber horse is supposed to win by daylight over these type of horses. this race reminds me of hansen's post-derby romp at prairie meadows--even down to the demolishing of to two dorencheko nags. except that hansen finished 9th in the derby and had moved into second on the far turn (after having tracked fractions just as fast as verranzo did), before fading after a mile and a sixteenth, which was probably the outer limit of his distance capabilities. if verrazano ever beats a grade one winner on dirt, then we can start to talk about him being back. so far he hasn't even shown up. who has he beaten of note to date? normandy invasion, who despite much ballyhoo has only one win to his name--a msw. vyjack--who showed promise until he had to race against top tier horses, instead of horses like claw back. he couldn't even pass normany invasion, who is still eligible for a none winner of two life lifetime. java's war, who clearly is a turf horse. not impressed.
this could be the best 3yo running. maybe he just didnt like church hill even the greatest horses can have a bad race
I hope everything is okay with itsmyluckyday
This was the greatest exacta and trifecta payout in the history of horseracing. Name the last time in a 5 horse field where the overwhelming favorite of 2-5 wins the race and the exacta pays $43 and the tri pays $238. I envisioned Itsmyluckyday on pace with Verrazano and then fading final 16th of a mile. Obviously I didn't think he would get injured but the Verrazano- Itsmyluckyday exacta was going to pay $3 dollars. Unreal. As soon as I saw that I wheeled the exacta n tri. The two fastest horses don't always finish 1-2.
So much for all the yakking about how no one could make any money on this race. Someone told me that I would be lucky to get a $12 trifecta. Until the race is over, one can never be sure of anything.
one of the greatest workouts Ive ever seen!
Congratulations to Verrazano on his win in the Pegasus Stakes. This race definitely was not the race that was originally envisioned by the participants. Verrazano looked fit & fast in his victory over the remaining overmatched competition in this race. (Long shot Reporting Star looked solid as the best of the rest still in competition in the race.) It was a nice victory. Congratulations to Verrazano, John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher and Verrazano's owners on his victory in the Pegasus. It's on to the Haskell for Verrazano. Now, for my beloved Lucky. I was thrilled to hear later in the day Sunday that Itsmyluckyday had been vanned off the track after being pulled up by Mike Smith during the Pegasus, entering the van under his own power, which was very welcomed news. It was even better news to hear that after initial x-rays, Lucky does not appear to have a leg fracture. Thank Goodness! This incident was traumatizing to me. I was already mad as heck at the race riding being performed against Mike Smith and Lucky by jockeys on horses who had ZERO chance to win the Pegasus Stakes. Itsmyluckyday & Verrazano were clearly, head & shoulders the classiest and best horses in the race. I'm all for fair competition, and if you can win the race fair & square against Lucky & Verrazano, then more power to you. But pulling shenanigans like they were pulling: unforgiveable. Lucky finally disposed of those unsportsmanlike contenders, pulled up to successfully rate against Verrazano and we all literally saw him take a bad step and start to back up. My heart sank to my stomach, I literally felt sick. Verrazano went on to win the race, but I wasn't interested in the race any more. I was deeply worried about Lucky. I feared the worst & prayed for Lucky's good health & that all would be well with him. I'm still not happy with Monmouth Park for not telling us a thing about Lucky after the incident. We saw the race's finish, the payout, the award presentation - not a word about the horse that was just hurt on their track! What the heck was that? I'm still outraged. Shame on you, Monmouth Park! I had to find out via Twitter what happened to Lucky! Luckily, Twitter was fast & furious with the information, which put me at ease. As I said before, I'm THRILLED Lucky does not appear to have a fracture - that is great news. I hope Lucky completely recovers and heals fully from whatever the cause of his injury is and I wish Lucky great good luck & good fortune. He is loved. I want to say thank you to Mike Smith as well. It's always better to be safe than sorry. There will (hopefully) be other stakes races ahead for Itsmyluckyday to win. Walking away from this race with precaution & Lucky's good health in tact will help Lucky make it to race in even bigger races another day! Thanks, Mike. I'm happy Lucky is doing much better than I first feared after the race. There WILL be other big stakes races to win in Lucky's future!
this is a serious horse. ill be happy to see him on the Oklahoma track at Saratoga where I work. I hope they find a race for him after the haskell
Can't judge anything from this. Verrazano is tailor made for Monmouth Park, but this win will just make him even harder to bet on in the Haskell.