The 3-year-old son of Tiznow, who had been idle since winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs last November, led throughout the mile race to prevail over previously undefeated Currency Swap, who was making his first start since capturing the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga last September.
“Physically, I thought he got everything he needed out of the race that we had hoped for, running a mile in 1:35-and-four and he galloped out really well,” said Pletcher, who will confer with WinStar Farm president Elliott Walden about the Kentucky-bred colt’s next race. “From a time standpoint it will be a race on either April 7 or April 14.”
Options for Gemologist are the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct on April 7, and the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland and the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn on April 14.
“We’ll decide whether it will be better to have four weeks or three weeks to the (Kentucky) Derby (May 5),” Pletcher said.
Gemologist broke sharply from the starting gate to set the pace under leading rider Javier Castellano, stalked closely by Currency Swap and Rajiv Maragh along the backstretch and into the far turn. The Pletcher-trained 3-5 favorite edged away from his pursuer leaving the turn into the homestretch and drew clear to the finish while well in hand.
“He came off the layoff with a great performance. He was amazing. He did it on his own. He did it so easy,” Castellano said. “I was very impressed; he did it the right way and he’s heading in the right direction.”
Currency Swap, the 6-5 second choice in the five-horse field, held second, five lengths ahead of Angel’s Tune and jockey John Velazquez. Currency Swap, who underwent surgery to remove a chip from his left ankle last fall, had won a maiden race and the Hopeful in his two previous starts.
“He was fine, nice and relaxed. We just wanted him to lay off the other horse (Gemologist), and the pace was a little slow in the beginning,” trainer Terri Pompay said. “The other horse ran away from him a little bit, but he did everything we wanted. We got the race into him.”
Pompay said she would wait to see how Currency Swap comes out of his 2012 debut before determining his next start with the son of High Cotton’s owners.