HALLANDALE BEACH — When the horses left the Gulfstream Park walking ring for the G2 Fort Lauderdale, I knew my single of Channel Cat was in trouble.
Not that the favorite looked badly, to the country. Todd Pletcher horses never look bad. But Instilled Regard was on fire, his coat glistening in the South Florida sun.
I remained on the first floor, watched Instilled Regard find a seam and surged through for the score. I returned to the ring to see the Harlan’s Holiday horses, notably favorites Prince Lucky and Bodexpress. Thought it was a two-horse race; wrong again.
When Prince Lucky bounced out of the ring I thought to myself ‘now that’s what a winning Pletcher horse looks like’. His owner applauded as the horse left the ring before the race. That was unusual, and did a heart good to see.
Before the leaders reached the halfway mark in the Harlan’s Holiday, Prince Lucky was in distress and was quickly pulled up by Johnny Velazquez. We wrote here earlier that Johnny’s quick reaction just might have saved a horse’s life.
“At this point I’m still not exactly sure what happened, I still need to see the head-on replay to see if he might have taken a bad step,” Pletcher told Daily Racing Form’s Mike Welsch on Sunday morning.
“Johnny said he wasn’t sure what happened either. He kind of heard something, almost like he clipped heels with Bodexpress. He said he heard something hit right before he felt him go wrong, after which he did a great job getting him pulled up,” Pletcher added.
Prince Lucky was scheduled to leave Gulfstream Park for Ocala Monday morning, headed for Dr. John Madison’s equine hospital.
After viewing x-days, Dr. Madison was optimistic he could perform the surgery and get the horse comfortable enough for a period of recuperation.
If all goes well, he will return to the farm of his owner/breeder, Daniel McConnell, rejoining his mom and several other horses in McConnell’s small operation.
Prince Lucky, who racing career ended Saturday, had won seven of 16 starts including four graded stakes, two at Gulfstream during last season’s championship meet.
The only rooting that remains for Prince Lucky now is that the rest of his story has a happy ending.