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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Itsaknockout KO's FOY Via DQ

2/21/2015

After being blocked by favored Upstart in the stretch, Starlight Racing’s Itsaknockout finished second in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park -- but a stewards inquiry changed the order of finish.

The Todd Pletcher trainee was moved up to the winner's circle upon video review of the stretch run and was awarded the victory and 50 Kentucky Derby points.

Upstart was favored at 4-5 in the Fountain of Youth after winning the Lambholm South Holy Bull on Jan. 24. He looked on his way to another win when he drifted to mid-track after being bumped by a tiring leader Frosted, who was ahead at the furlong marker.

Upstart then got the lead, but he was quickly challenged to his outside by Itsaknockout. Upstart came out on that one, causing Luis Saez to check Itsaknockout as Upstart drew away to finish 2 3/4 lengths clear under Jose Ortiz.

Saez claimed foul, and the stewards quickly posted the inquiry sign. After several minutes of deliberation, they disqualified Upstart from the win and moved him down to second.

“I feel bad for the connections of the other horse. He crossed the finish line first, but definitely we got impeded a bit and Luis had to stop riding for a couple strides,” Pletcher said. “I don’t know how it would eventually affect the outcome.”

Upstart’s trainer, Rick Violette, disagreed with the decision of the stewards.

“Bad call. They have to understand that when the horse gets hit behind the girth, the only place the horse can go is to the right,” said Violette.

The trainer claimed Itsaknockout made first contact. “It's disappointing. The horse ran great; we just don't get credit for it.”

The disqualification aside, Itsaknockout impressed his trainer with his stakes debut in the 1 1-16-mile Fountain of Youth. The win was his third in as many starts.

“The thing I’m most proud of is for this horse to run this well in his third lifetime start, first time around two turns and first time in a stake,” Pletcher said. “It was a very, very good effort. He was in between horses in a situation he hasn’t been in before, so it was a big effort.”

Itsaknockout, the 5-1 third choice in a field of eight, broke well and tracked the pace as Bluegrass Singer showed the way around the first turn and onto the backstretch, pressed by Frosted. Upstart pulled alongside Itsaknockout in mid-backstretch and took off after the leaders leaving the backstretch. Leaving the turn into the homestretch, Frosted moved to the lead under a motionless Irad Ortiz Jr. as Bluegrass Singer dropped out of contention. Frosted appeared on his way to victory, only to suddenly shorten stride after straightening out for the stretch run. Upstart caught up quickly and was bumped by the tiring 7-2 second choice, setting up the skirmish between favorite and Itsaknockout.

“That was a tough decision," Saez said. "I did think he would get taken down because he really bothered me. When we came into the stretch, I felt like my horse wanted to run, so I thought we'd win the race. But the other horse came out and bothered me. I couldn't ride my horse. He's a little better on the outside. Today there was a little speed outside of us so we had to play with that. At the three-eighths he really responded.”

Upstart ran 1 1/16 mile in 1:46.28.

Itsaknockout finished 1 3/4 length ahead of the late-charging Frammento, a 63-1 longshot ridden by John Velazquez. Frosted finished fourth, a neck behind Frammento.

Itsaknockout is likely to return in the Florida Derby on March 28.

“I would certainly think so,” Pletcher said. “He’s three-for-three at Gulfstream, so I don’t think we’d want to change anything. He’s just one of those colts who’s easy to train. Everything we’ve asked him to do, he’s stepped up and done. We’ve been able to train him with some nice horses and he’s shown that he’s capable. With his pedigree, we figured the more we stretched him out the better he’d do.”


By Dick Downey with content from Gulfstream Park release

Photo by Lauren King

 

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