Thursday, August 14, 2008
GOTTCHA GOLD NEEDS TO STEP UP IN ISELIN REPEAT TRY
OCEANPORT, N.J. * Gottcha Gold comes into Saturday’s $300,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes off three straight losses and gets a new rider in Elvis Trujillo as he seeks a repeat victory in the Grade 3 event * Tickets for Saturday’s wine tasting and luncheon are still available at $75 each.
This has been a different year for Gottcha Gold, and not in a good way so far. Last year, the son of Coronado’s Quest caught some breaks and captured his first graded stakes, with victories in both the Salvator Mile (G3) and Philip H. Iselin Stakes (G3). He finished the 2007 season with a second in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
“That’s racing,” trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. says philosophically. “The breaks went our way last year, and this year they haven’t.”
One major difference for Gottcha Gold in his Monmouth races has been the absence of jockey Chuck C. Lopez, who fit the horse’s front-running style perfectly. The rider was aboard in all of Gottcha Gold’s top performances from May of 2007 until May of 2008, when he suffered a fractured heel during training hours.
Lopez has been sidelined since, and Plesa will try his third rider in as many races to get Gottcha Gold to win when he gives a leg up to Elvis Trujillo Saturday.
“Chuck rode the horse perfectly,” Plesa said. “He gave him his head, and got him to relax on the front end.”
Gottcha Gold, a Centaur Farms homebred, comes into the mile and an eighth Iselin off a fourth-place finish in the Skip Away, where he never got the lead.
“That race was a disappointment,” Plesa said. “But I’m willing to toss it out. He’s training fine, same as always, so I’m looking for him to rebound in the Iselin.”
Gottcha Gold won last year’s edition of the Iselin by four and a half widening lengths, but he’ll have his work cut out on Saturday when his rivals will include several horses for the course and a couple of talented invaders.
Probable Iselin starters include Actin Good, who has taken two of three career wins at Monmouth, including the Grade 3 Pegasus last October; Cuba, who has won two straight here, including the Charles Hesse Handicap last out; Kiss the Kid, who’s won three races here on turf and dirt, and Grasshopper, coming off three straight Grade 1 stakes, including a third in the Whitney at Saratoga last out. Other likely Iselin starters are Honest Man, who was third in the Salvator Mile, and either Cowtown Cat or Pleasant Strike from Todd Pletcher’s large string.
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