After catching a leader who set a fast pace, Itsmyluckyday pulled away to a 6 1/4-length win in Tuesday’s $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby and stirred early talk about some bigger derbies later this year.
Itsmyluckyday won the one-mile dirt stakes, which was billed as the “first Derby of the year’’ for 3-year-olds in the fast time of 1:34.39.
Sr. Quisqueyano came in second, with Undrafted another 5 1/2 lengths behind in third.
Itsmyluckyday’s dominating victory led to a winner’s circle question about whether his trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. has Derby fever — meaning the Kentucky Derby on May 4.
But Plesa aaid he is thinking only of the next round of stakes in Florida for Itsmyluckyday.
The colt’s next race could be the Holy Bull (Grade 3) at Gulfstream on Jan. 26 or the Sam F. Davis (Grade 3) at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb 3.
“Let’s see how he comes out of this race, and we’ll go from there,” Plesa said.
Itsmyluckyday came into Tuesday’s race with four wins in seven starts.
One victory was in the Foolish Pleasure at a mile and 70 yards at Calder on Sept. 15.
He was the 3-1 third choice in the Gulfstream Park Derby’s six-horse field.
Undrafted shot out to his expected lead, with Itsmyluckyday fourth after a quarter-mile.
Undrafted ran the half-mile in 44.94, with Itsmyluckyday second by a length.
Itsmyluckyday took the lead entering the stretch and went on to his win that should put him on some Kentucky Derby contender lists, although not near the top.
In the Holy Bull, opposition probably would include the unbeaten Shanghai Bobby, who is trained by Todd Pletcher.
Gulfstream’s remaining distance stakes for 3-year-olds will be the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth (Grade 2) on Feb. 25 and the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby (Grade 1) on March 30.
Itsmyluckyday shared the Gulfstream New Year’s Day spotlight with Kauai Katie, the winner of the $100,000 Old Hat Stakes (Grade 3) for 3-year-old fillies.
Kauai Katie, who is trained by Pletcher, won the six-furlong dirt stakes in 1:09.66 under jockey John Velazquez.
It was the fourth-fastest time in the 38 runnings of the Old Hat.
Kauai Katie beat Cor Cor by eight lengths, and added to her credentials as the country’s top 3-year-old filly sprinter.
Pletcher said Kauai Katie’s next start probably will be in the Forward Gal (Grade 2) at seven furlongs at Gulfstream on Jan. 26.
Gulfstream had two other stakes for newly turned 3-year-olds.
Merit Man, the 6-5 favorite, held off 50-1 shot City of Weston and won by three-quarters of a length in the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes.
Merit Man won the six-furlong race in 1:11.39. He was ridden by Joel Rosario and is trained by Robert Hess Jr.
Tuttipaesi rallied from 10th place after a half-mile and beat Wave Theory by two lengths in the $75,000 Sugar Swirl.
Discreet Marq finished third in the 1 1/16 mile turf stakes.
As part of a New Year’s week schedule change, Gulfstream will not have racing on Wednesday.
Gulfstream’s next stakes race will be the $100,000 Marshua’s River (Grade 3) on Saturday, Jan. 5.
It is 1 1/16 mile on turf for fillies and mare 4-years-old and up.