11/06/2010 2:15PM

Pluck rallies from last in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf

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Barbara D. Livingston
Pluck rallies from last entering the stretch to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – From stumbling at the start to avoiding a fallen horse into the first turn, little seemed to be going right for Pluck early in Saturday’s Grade 2, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Until Pluck got into stride on the final turn, that is. Then his ability offset his poor fortune, and he closed from last to win going away.

The win gave trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Garrett Gomez a sweep of the two Breeders’ Cup turf races for juveniles following More Than Real’s victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on Friday.

Sadly, the race was marred by a fatal front leg injury to Rough Sailing, who slipped going into the first turn, falling to the turf and unseating rider Anna Napravnik. Rough Sailing was transported via horse ambulance to his barn, where a fractured humerus was discovered. Rough Sailing, a 2-year-old Mizzen Mast colt owned by Jack Smith III Thoroughbreds and trained by Mike Stidham, was euthanized.

Napravnik was uninjured.

Pluck appeared lucky to avoid the fallen horse and rider into the first turn, with Gomez just angling his mount to their inside.

Even then, Gomez stayed patient on Pluck, letting him settle at the back of the pack, 14 lengths off the leader, a position he didn’t anticipate being in early.

“I had to go to Plan B,” he said after his mount stumbled.

Not even the fractions of the race were favorable for Pluck as pacesetting Madman Diaries set modest splits of 47.91 seconds and 1:13.05 in the mile race.

Coming into the stretch, Pluck still had the nine horses to pass, but with Gomez cutting the corner and splitting horses before taking him to the outside for stretch, the horse was able to avoid losing much ground.

He then outquickened the opposition, surging past the leaders to score a length victory over Soldat, who had closed up the hedge from midpack to be second.

Willcox Inn, another starter for trainer Mike Stidham, rallied belated to be third in a blanket finish for the show.

The winner – by More Than Ready, also the sire of More Than Real – paid $14.80. He raced a mile in 1:36.98 over a course officially labeled firm, but which Gomez characterized as being on the softer side.

“Some of these younger horses are having a little trouble with it and not getting across it really well,” he said.

Europeans, who had won the last two runnings of the Juvenile Turf, ran poorly Saturday. Master of Hounds, the 7-2 favorite, ran sixth; 8-1 shot Utley ran seventh; and 8-1 Mantoba was 10th.

Pluck’s victory marked the second Breeders’ Cup win for the colt’s owner, Team Valor, following the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Turf with Prized.