Jacks or Better Farm, Inc.’s Best Plan Yet returned to the winner’s circle when he earned his first career stakes victory in last Saturday’s Foolish Pleasure Stakes at Calder Casino & Race Course. Trainer Stanley Gold said that his horse is now set to face his Florida Stallion Stakes Series rival, My Brown Eyed Guy, in the final leg of the series, the In Reality division.
In the 1 mile-70 yards Foolish Pleasure, jockey Jeffrey Sanchez kept Best Plan Yet way behind the front-runners, Gilbert G. Campbell’s Union Cash and Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti’s Copa Del Rey. He remained at the back of the pack, before steadily advancing around the far turn and coming up to reach the front-runners at the top of the stretch. He was encouraged to move between the two at the top of the turn, bumped with Copa Del Rey into the stretch, went ahead nearing the wire, and won by a length.
“I felt good going in. I felt he would run the way that he did run,” said Gold. “I was a little worried because of where he was early. I didn’t think he was going to be that far back, but Jeffrey had him measured pretty good and he got him there in time. It all worked out, so the Stallion Stakes is next.”
The In Reality will be run at Calder on Saturday, October 12, as part of the Festival of the Sun. Gilbert G. Campbell’s My Brown Eyed Guy established his position as the front-runner to sweep the entire series with victories in the first two legs of the series – the Dr. Fager division and the Affirmed division, races in which Best Plan Yet had to settle for second both times. The Dr. Fager took place on July 20 at a distance of 6 furlongs; while the Affirmed was held at 7 furlongs on August 24. Gold believes that the added distance to 1 1/16-miles for the In Reality will help Best Plan Yet defeat My Brown Eyed Guy.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Gold. “I think he’s good enough to match strides with the horse as he was, and as he is. He was doing so well that I thought we would go in (the Foolish Pleasure) instead of breeze because we really we haven’t hit the bottom with him. He’s come back with something left because last time he got beat when he ran out of real estate. I just think Jeffrey left him too much work and we ran out of ground.”
Best Plan Yet finished fourth in his career debut at Calder on June 22 in the 5 ½-furlong Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes. He went into the Dr. Fager and faced My Brown Eyed Guy for the first time. While My Brown Eyed Guy led for much of the race, Best Plan Yet raced behind the pace and advanced down the stretch to take the second spot, but could not reach My Brown Eyed Guy, who finished 3 ¼-lengths ahead. Best Plan Yet broke his maiden in a 7-furlong maiden special weight race on August 3 at Calder, where he chased the pace with Jacks or Better Farm, Inc.’s D N A Approved before taking control down the stretch to win by 2 lengths over D N A Approved. Best Plan Yet faced My Brown Eyed Guy again in the Affirmed, racing in third and coming up for second to finish 2 ¼-lengths behind My Brown Eyed Guy. Best Plan Yet then took the Foolish Pleasure for his first career stakes victory.
“He is going to get better with time. Right now we have no soundness issues, and I just hope he grows and fills out. There is better to come with him, I’m sure,” said Gold. "Even when we started with this horse, we knew that 6 and 7 furlongs wasn’t going to be the distance.”
My Brown Eyed Guy, trained by Kathleen O’Connell, skipped the Foolish Pleasure, which was the main prep race on the Festival Preview card for the In Reality, and is expected to train up to the In Reality.
“If you’re looking at the sweep like we had done in the past years, and Kathleen is, you pass (the Foolish Pleasure) and save your horse and get him ready,” said Gold. “Everything worked good. He came out of the race with gas in the tank.”
While a rivalry exists between Best Plan Yet and My Brown Eyed Guy, a friendly competition also exists between the horses’ trainers.
“I’m friends with Kathleen, so it would be fun to beat her, and she would like to beat me, too,” Gold said.
A victory in the In Reality would make My Brown Eyed Guy’s trainer, Kathleen O’Connell, the first female trainer to have a horse sweep the Florida Stallion Stakes Series with the Dr. Fager, Affirmed, and In Reality divisions in the same year. Gold swept the Florida Stallion Series with these divisions back in 2009 with now multiple Grade 1-winner Jackson Bend and in 2011 with now multiple Grade 3-winner Fort Loudon.
D N A Approved also ran in the Foolish Pleasure but tired to sixth down the stretch after tracking the frontrunners for much of the race. The sixth-place finish was the colt’s worst finish since his career debut in the Frank Gomez Memorial, where he also finished sixth. After running second to Best Plan Yet in his only maiden special weight appearance, D N A Approved came third in the 1-mile Seacliff Stakes at Calder on August 24 after being scratched from the Affirmed division.
“I am really disappointed (with his performance in the Foolish Pleasure), and we’re going to give that some good, hard thought and look and see what happened,” said Gold. “I expected him to run much better than he did. He didn’t come back with any issues, so I’m not sure why he ran like that.”
Gold said that D N A Approved may run in the In Reality with Best Plan Yet or go in a maiden special weight race to try and break his maiden for his next start.