02/01/2016 11:56AM

Pletcher sending three of his big guns to Donn

Barbara D. Livingston
Mshawish is a Grade 1 winner on turf and could add a Grade 1 on dirt with a win in the Donn.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Todd Pletcher might be a little light in the 3-year-old ranks, but he certainly does not have that problem in the handicap division. Pletcher has a half-dozen or more top older horses in the barn, and his arsenal was strengthened even further with impressive allowance victories last Thursday by General a Rod and on Sunday by Outlash.

The pecking order in the Pletcher barn likely will come to light here on Saturday when he sends out Itsaknockout, Mshawish, and Madefromlucky in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap and Tommy Macho in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper. All four tuned up for their upcoming tasks by breezing a half-mile last Saturday at Palm Beach Downs.

Pletcher had considered running all four in the Donn, but after talking with owner Paul Pompa Jr., he decided to put Tommy Macho in the one-mile Hooper rather than the 1 1/8-mile Donn. Tommy Macho won the Grade 3 Discovery at Aqueduct during the fall.

“He said it’s his first race of the year, so let’s go with a little shorter distance,” said Pletcher. “The Hooper might not be an easier race, but the field isn’t quite as deep as the Donn. He showed signs at times last year he might have some big races in him, and I like what he’s done physically from 3 to 4. With further improvement, I think he can develop into a nice handicap horse for us this year.”

Itsaknockout, 4, is coming off perhaps a career-best performance, rallying to a 4 3/4-length allowance win here Dec. 31 while making his first start since finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby. Itsaknockout won the Fountain of Youth here last winter via the disqualification of Upstart.

Madefromlucky won two Grade 2 stakes last year at 3 and was second behind Tommy Macho in the Discovery. Mshawish, the winner of the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap here last season, became a graded stakes winner on dirt in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope here last month.

“Itsaknockout and Madefromlucky worked in company on Saturday, and both went well,” said Pletcher. “Mshawish we always work alone, and he was very impressive, as usual. I was very impressed with Itsaknockout’s first race back and even more impressed with the way he’s been training since. Madefromlucky loves Gulfstream. Hopefully, he will get a favorable pace setup and runs his race. I loved to see Mshawish have that kind of win on dirt last time, and a Grade 1 win on dirt would mean a lot to us and for his potential stallion career.”

The Donn and the Fred Hooper are among six stakes on Saturday’s card. The others are the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, the Grade 3 Suwannee River, the $75,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint, and the $75,000 Ladies Turf Sprint.

◗ There will be a carryover of $359,359 in the Rainbow 6 when racing resumes Wednesday. Multiple tickets were sold with all six winners last Sunday, returning $23,742 apiece.