Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. had a difficult decision to make when he was pondering whether or not to race Itsmyluckycharm in Saturday's $75,000 Azalea Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Plesa didn't care for her No. 1 post and considered scratching the filly.
Now he has an even tougher decision on his hands after Itsmyluckycharm recorded her seventh victory in 13 career starts: Does he continue to keep the successful 3-year-old in his stable or sell her while the time is ripe?
“She's just a filly that won't be denied,” Plesa said by phone after Itsmyluckycharm chased down Calinas Song in the closing strides to record a 3/4-length victory in the seven furlong Azalea, part of Saturday's Summit of Speed card at Gulfstream.
“Every once in a while you come up with a horse that they don't want to get beat, and she's that horse,” Plesa said. “She just does what she has to do to get up there and win the race.”
With Saturday's victory, Itsmyluckycharm, who is owned by Plesa's wife Laurie, has now finished first eight times since breaking her maiden at Gulfstream last August. She was disqualified to 10th in one of those races.
She also has three second-place finishes to her credit.
But she may not remain with Plesa, who also bred the horse, much longer. Plesa said he plans to offer her in Fasig-Tipton's Horses of Racing Age Sale on July 8 in Lexington, Ky.
He's also received interest in selling her to private buyers.
For a trainer to sell a horse that you bred yourself, that's what I'm in the business for, so it would be hard for me not to sell her,” Plesa said, indicating that Saturday's race would likely be her last for him and his wife.
“I'm going to talk it over with Laurie tonight at dinner and we'll make a decision,” Plesa said.
The decision Plesa made Saturday to leave Itsmyluckycharm in the Azalea rather than scratch her was a wise one. The filly rallied from sixth for jockey Albin Jimenez to get past Calinas Song for the victory. Dizzy was third.
The versatile filly has won on turf and dirt, sprinting and going long, making her even more attractive to potential buyers.
“I kind of rolled the dice and said let's run in this race,” Plesa said.
Take Command won one for the U.S. Army, and in particular, veterans of the Vietnam War.
The 3-year-old colt pulled off the surprise Saturday, winning the $75,000 Carry Back by four widening lengths in the seven-furlong stakes.
It was the first stakes win for owner Bonnie Thompson and her Tropic Lightning Racing, named for the 25th Infantry Division that fought in Vietnam.
“(Our horses) run in honor of Vietnam vets,” said Thompson, who celebrated her 51st wedding anniversary Saturday with her husband, Dave, who served as a door gunner in Vietnam.
Sent off at odds of 17-1, Take Command took command in the stretch and cruised to a convincing win for trainer Terri Pompay and jockey Miguel Vasquez.
“We are thrilled,” Thompson said. “We did not expect this. We are like the Mine That Bird owners.”
Take Command had won two races in six previous starts — all of them at Gulfstream — but had come up short in each of his first three attempts in stakes company.
Not so Saturday when he pulled away in late stretch, putting away race favorites Well Defined (fifth) and Jackson (second).
“I've only been in racing 10 years and I started Tropic Lightning seven years ago,” Thompson said. “(Initially), I had a partner in him. She moved away and said 'Do you want to buy me out?' I did and I'm very glad I did.”
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