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Prince Lucky Makes the Grade in Hal’s Hope

Prince Lucky Makes the Grade in Hal’s Hope

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Daniel McConnell’s homebred Prince Lucky struck a major chord in his first start since June 9, winning Saturday’s Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park for his first career graded score.

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Breaking alertly from the far outside 9 post at 7/1 odds under John Velazquez, Prince Lucky sat three-wide up front while the pair of WinStar Farm silks-adorned Copper Town and Quip posted opening fractions of :23.07 and :45.00. Velazquez remained chilly as Prince Lucky began to draw up to meet Copper Town’s eyes midway through the far turn, while to their inside, Quip gave way. Emerging onto the top of the stretch with a slim lead, Prince Lucky kicked away in midstretch before clearing off to win by 6 growing lengths in a final time of 1:34.84 for the mile-long event over the fast main track.

“I knew my other horse in Todd’s entry had speed, but my horse was doing it easy,” Velazquez said. “I was just sitting on my horse and watched those horses and how they were doing. He kind of jogged me little by little to where I was, and when I asked him, he ran very good.”

Sent off as the 2/1 second choice at the betting window, Copper Town was no match for the winner but still took second by 1 1/4 lengths to give trainer Todd Pletcher the exacta.

“Copper Town again didn’t get away real cleanly,” Pletcher said. “He kind of bobbled at the start and recovered and put himself in a good position, but was just second-best on the day.”

Quip held onto third by a length over Tale of Silence, who stole fourth from Sir Anthony at the wire by a nose. Fellowship was not far behind them in sixth, but the same could not be said for Mr. Jordan or the 9/5 favorite Breaking Lucky, who finished last in the field of eight to complete the order of finish. Wild Shot was scratched.

Prince Lucky’s win was his second straight, having sprung an upset in the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont Park last summer, and improved his overall record to 9-5-0-2. The 4-year-old Pennsylvania-bred son of Corinthian has now earned $291,830 after taking home the first-place prize of $60,140.

“I would say with Prince Lucky, we’d look at the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) on Florida Derby Day, if he bounces out of it well,” Pletcher said. “I don’t think he’s limited to that, I just think it’s a good distance to start him back at.”

Prince Lucky returned $17.60 to win, $7.80 to place, and $4.40 to show. Copper Town brought back $5.60 to place and $4 to show, while Quip paid $4.20 to show.

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