Todd A. Pletcher Racing Stables, Inc.

Prince Lucky Powers Home in Hal's Hope Stakes

Prince Lucky draws off to win the Hal's Hope Stakes by six lengths at Gulfstream Park



Luck took a back seat to talent Feb. 23, when Daniel McConnell's homebred Prince Lucky drew off in the stretch to win the $100,000 Hal's Hope Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park by six lengths. 

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Pennsylvania-bred gelding broke well in the one-mile dirt test and briefly challenged for the lead before being edged back to stalk the pace in third. 

Tracking steadily as stablemate Copper Town dueled with Quip for the lead, Prince Lucky slowly gained ground and was only a head behind Copper Town as they reached the six-furlong mark in 1:21.88 and was on equal terms midway through the turn for home. 

Continuing to battle with Copper Town through the stretch, Prince Lucky pressed his advantage and powered forward with energy to spare. Copper Town proved no contest as Prince Lucky cruised clear to win in a final time of 1:34.84. 

"I knew the other horse in Todd's entry had speed, but my horse was doing it easy," said jockey John Velazquez, who was aboard Prince Lucky. "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."

Copper Town took second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Quip in third. Tale of SilenceSir AnthonyFellowshipMr. Jordan, and Breaking Luckycompleted the order of finish. 

The first race of the year for Prince Lucky followed an 8 1/2-month layoff. Pletcher was more than pleased with the 4-year-old gelding's performance and said a likely next target will be the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) March 30. 

 "We just felt like the distance suited him well, he was doing well, and then he drew a really favorable post position (8) for him," Pletcher said. "I was happy to see him come back strong off the layoff, and hopefully (there are) bigger and better things to come."

Out of the Great Notion mare Lucky Notion, the son of Corinthian improved his record to 5-0-2 from nine starts, with earnings of $291,830. It was the first graded victory for Prince Lucky, who was a black-type winner at 2. 

Pletcher has won three of the last four runnings of the Hal's Hope and four in all. He won in 2016 with Mshawish  and again in 2017 with Tommy Macho. His first win in the race came in 2010 with Quality Road .

The Hal's Hope was the featured race on Saturday's card, which also included a pair of five-furlong, $75,000 turf stakes for 3-year-olds and 3-year-old fillies. 

Klein Racing's Play On picked up her first stakes win in the Melody of Colors Stakes. It was the third consecutive win for the daughter of Country Day who broke her maiden Nov. 18 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots before closing her freshman year with another win in a Dec. 20 optional-claiming allowance race at the same track. 

One race after the Hal's Hope, Florida-bred Yes I Am Free edged Jackson by a half-length to take the Texas Glitter Stakes. Owned by Gary Barber, the Uncaptured colt is now 2-for-2, having broken his maiden on debut Jan. 17 at Gulfstream. 

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