A year ago, Starlight Racing’s Itsaknockout was training to run in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). He finished ninth in that race, won by future Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah.
Itsaknockout did not race again until December, when he won a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream. He opened 2016 at Gulfstream with a fourth-place finish to stablemate Mshawish in the Donn (G1) and a fifth-place finish to stablemate Blofeld in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2).
Now Itsaknockout is set to make his turf debut in Friday’s $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile (G1)
Trainer Todd Pletcher said the decision to enter Itsaknockout was made Monday, the day after the colt worked a half-mile on the firm Keeneland turf in :47. That was the second time in his career he had worked on the turf; the first was after the Derby.
“He’s a son of Lemon Drop Kid. He’s got the pedigree that suggests he’ll run on the turf,” Pletcher said. “We thought he worked very well on this turf course. Once we saw that and he came out of it well on Tuesday, we thought we’d go ahead and look at the Maker’s 46.
“The weather looks good, and the ground should be firm,” he added. “Should be similar conditions to what he breezed on (Sunday). We’re hopeful that what we saw in the morning indicates he likes it. We figured if we’re gonna give him a try on the turf we might as well do it in a big spot.”
Pletcher won the Maker’s 46 Mile last year with Jack Milton.
On Saturday, the same connections will be represented in the Coolmore Jenny Wiley (G1) with Itsonlyactingdad, a 4-year-old Giant’s Causeway filly coming off an allowance victory at Gulfstream on Feb. 27.
“She ran very well at Belmont last year,” Pletcher said, referring to her runner-up finish to undefeated Lady Eli in the Belmont Oaks (G1). “We’re hoping her second race off the layoff will be a good one.”
Itsonlyactingdad, whose second dam, Mining My Business, is a half-sister to champion and dual-classic winner Real Quiet, won her 2016 debut at Gulfstream on Feb. 27.
Pletcher’s Keeneland string includes Stonestreet Stables’ Rachel’s Valentina, who was second in the April 9 Central Bank Ashland (G1) and is scheduled to make her next start at Churchill Downs in the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
He said the Bernardini filly, whose dam is Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, probably would work in the coming week at Keeneland and move to Churchill the following week.
Pletcher said his two Derby hopefuls, Destin and Outwork, “both are doing great.”
Winner of the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Sam F. Davis (G3), Destin remains in Florida at Palm Beach Downs. Pletcher said he is to breeze there Saturday.
Outwork is at Belmont, where he won Saturday’s Wood Memorial (G1) and is to breeze the following week.
Pletcher said he is looking at around April 25 to ship the two colts to Churchill.
Click here to watch the interview with Pletcher.