Kentucky Derby hopeful Itsmyluckyday put forth what is likely his penultimate workout before shipping to Louisville, covering one mile in 1:43.20 over a fast track at Calder Casino & Race Course on Thursday. The Eddie Plesa, Jr.-trained colt is tentatively scheduled to breeze one more time before departing next week.
“He is scheduled to leave Friday, the 26th,” assistant trainer Frankie Perez said. “I’ll be making the trip with him and will be watching him all the way.”
Keeping a close eye on Plesa-trained runners has become second nature to Perez, a veteran horseman that has been a vital part of the Plesa barn for 20 years and currently oversees the operation’s Calder division.
“I’ve never thought about going out on my own because I’ve got the best job I could want right now,” Perez said. “Eddie is great, our owners are great, and I’ve had the chance to be around some very nice horses.”
No horse currently ranks higher on the Plesa roster than Itsmyluckyday, whose stall is just outside the main office in barn 74, where both trainer and assistant trainer can keep a close watch on the colt.
“Just walking a horse like him through the barn is the best feeling there is,” Perez said. “Knowing that right there, in my hands, I’m holding a horse that could be a champion and is worth millions. Not everybody gets to experience that.”
And not everybody gets to experience the thrill of leading a horse over the Kentucky Derby, something Perez will be part of for the third time having traveled to Louisville alongside the Plesa-trained filly Three Ring in 1999 and as part of the Frank Brothers team with Dansil in 1989.
“It’s exciting to make that walk, there is no question about that, but my only concern is going to be right there,” Perez said, pointing towards Itsmyluckyday. “There are so many little things that can go wrong and my job is to make sure that the horse stays happy and calm. You don’t want him losing his race before he even gets to the paddock.”
Nor does Perez want anything in the pre-race preparations to compromise Itsmyluckyday’s chance to achieve Derby glory and plans to stay watchful of the colt every minute from now until the starting gate opens on May 4.
“I’ll sleep right there next to him if I have to,” Perez said. “I don’t care where I stay. Wherever he goes, that’s where you’ll find me.”
NARVAEZ TO START IN ILLINOIS DERBY
While Itsmyluckday, second in the Florida Derby, has set course for a run in the Kentucky Derby, Stipa Racing Stable, Inc.’s Narvaez, fourth in that same race, has targeted the $750,000 Illinois Derby on Saturday for his next start.
A maiden winner at Calder last November, Narvaez dead-heated for victory with subsequent Grade 3 Bay Shore winner Declan’s Warrior in an early March Gulfstream Park allowance before returning with his fourth in the Florida Derby at odds of 103-1.
Paco Lopez will travel to Stickney to ride the Agustin Bezara-conditioned colt, who drew post 14 on Wednesday.