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Itsmyluckyday favorite for Florida Derby

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Shanghai Bobby will get a chance to avenge the only defeat of his career when he takes on Itsmyluckyday and eight others in the $1 million Florida Derby on Saturday.

The 2-year-old champion won all five of his races last year, including the Champagne and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. In his 3-year-debut, he was beaten in the Holy Bull by Itsmyluckyday, who set a Gulfstream Park record for 1 1/16 miles in winning by two lengths.

Itsmyluckyday was made the 2-1 morning-line favorite Wednesday in a field of 10 for the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, a key prep for the Kentucky Derby on May 4. Shanghai Bobby is the 5-2 second choice, with Fountain of Youth winner Orb the third choice at 3-1.

Eddie Plesa Jr., who trains Itsmyluckyday, says his colt is ready for the challenge.

``If I had drawn a map for his training since the Holy Bull it couldn't have gone any better than it has,'' Plesa said of his colt's weekly workouts since then. ``I wouldn't change a thing about what we planned for him.''

Itsmyluckyday drew the No. 3 post and will be ridden by Elvis Trujillo. Shanghai Bobby, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Rosie Napravnik, will leave from the No. 1 post.

Not to be left out of the mix is Orb, the Fountain of Youth winner who drew the No. 6 post and will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez. The colt has won three in a row and has blossomed since arriving in Florida from New York.

``He has made great strides since he got down here,'' trainer Shug McGaughey said. ``He doesn't necessarily have to win Saturday to go to the Derby, but he has to run the right kind of race. If he doesn't, we won't go. I want the horse to take me there.''

Also entered are Pick of the Litter, Pontiff, Frac Daddy, Indy's Illusion, Merit Man, Are You Kidding Me and Narvaez.

The winner earns 100 Derby qualifying points, with second place worth 40, third 20 and fourth 10. Total points will determine the 20 starters for the Kentucky Derby.

In another of the six graded stakes races on Saturday's card, 2012 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy is set to meet Travers winner Golden Ticket and 2011 Belmont Stakes winner Pants On Fire in the Skip Away.

The field, from the rail out, is Shanghai Bobby (Rosie Napravnik, 5-2), Pick of the Litter (Jesus Castanon, 6-1), Itsmyluckyday (Elvis Trujillo, 2-1), Pontiff (Alan Garcia, 30-1), Frac Daddy (Corey Lanerie, 20-1), Orb (John Velazquez, 3-1), Indy's Illusion (Rajiv Maragh, 20-1), Merit Man (Kent Desormeaux, 15-1), Are You Kidding Me (Jose Lezcano, 15-1) and Narvaez (Paco Lopez, 20-1).

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

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  Mike Dempsey
Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders’ Cup.
Last Year Mike had a solid Triple Crown, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.

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