Prince Lucky cruised to an easy victory in the 28th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Hal’s Hope Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
Last seen at Belmont Park in June, Prince Lucky showed no signs of rust, as he put away stablemate Copper Town in deep stretch and pulled away under John Velazquez to a six-length daylight score. The start was slightly eventful, as CopperTown bobbled at the break and recovered, only to get bounced around while trying to get back into stride. But Javier Castellano straightened him out and assumed the early lead. Quip and Jose Ortiz, went with him from the rail while Prince Lucky tracked in third and 9/5 favorite Breaking Lucky settled in fourth. As they hit the far turn, Prince Lucky made a three wide move and engaged Copper Town and took command at the 1/8 pole and drew away at will.
Trainer Todd Pletcher saddled both the first and second place finishers and was rather pleased at the outcome. “It was a really big effort from both horses,” he said. “I thought they both ran well, but Prince Lucky, he’d been training very sharply, and we decided rather than try an allowance race off the layoff, he’s training well enough to give this a try.”
Quip ran a tremendous third, considering he was last seen in The Preakness Stakes last May. After hanging around some fast early fractions, Quip looked like he was going backwards in a hurry and probably wouldn’t beat a horse. But he held well and re-rallied a bit and really seemed to get a lot out of the race. He will be much tighter in his next outing and deserves a look no matter where he shows up.
Tale of Science rounded out the superfecta and Sir Anthony ran fifth. The favorite, Breaking Lucky ran last in the field of eight.
Prince Lucky completed the mile in 1:34.84 and paid $17.60 to win. It was the first graded stakes win for the 4-yr.-old gelding and his next start might be in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Mile on Florida Derby Day.