Pletcher's 'Other' Horse Could Provide KO Punch

Come on, people, forget all these big-name horses and their gaudy records and brilliant performances, it’s May 2, it’s Mayweather – Pacquiao, it’s a knockout. You get it? I repeat, Itsaknockout. It all fits doesn’t it? Although a knockout in the big fight looks fairly unlikely, that wouldn’t be the case at Churchill Downs if Itsaknockout scores an upset in the Kentucky Derby.

Look, the name fits the occasion, the colt’s sire Lemon Drop Kid was named after a racetrack tout, and the horse took a dive last time out just to set up a big score in the championship bout. What more do you want?

This is no cream puff. He went toe to toe with one of the division leaders Upstart in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and actually was placed first when his more illustrious and experienced opponent was disqualified for hitting below the belt. And that was with Itsaknockout coming off only two minor events and apparently was the proverbial boy going against a man when he went up against Upstart.

So, what happened in the Florida Derby run over a similar dead, demanding surface. Well, some at Gulfstream claimed the track on Florida Derby day actually was more tiring and demanding than Fountain of Youth day. Whatever the case, it was obvious early on that Itsaknockout was just spinning his wheels and going nowhere. He floundered home 21 lengths behind stablemate Materiality and 19 1/2 lengths behind Upstart, which made no sense based on the Fountain of Youth finish.

If you’re willing to throw that race out and feel that Itsknockout still got enough out of the race to prepare him for a big effort in the Kentucky Derby, then you would have to consider him a viable longshot who could be a huge overlay if he returns to his Fountain of Youth form.

Certainly, no one is talking about him, and as his co-owner Jack Wolf of Starlight Racing said, “He’s not only under the radar, he’s sub under the radar.”

Starting from scratch and only going by what one sees at Churchill Downs, Itsaknockout had an excellent workout on Friday, April 24 in company with Materiality, in which he was able to run step for step with his more brilliant stablemate. Watching him walk to the track this morning for his jog, you had to be impressed with him physically. He’s carrying good flesh, his coat looks terrific, and he’s well muscled out. He has a lot of Lemon Drop Kid’s physical qualities, especially the head and coat color, although he’s not as long-bodied as his sire. He’s more advanced at this stage than Lemon Drop Kid, who finished in the middle of the pack in the Derby, but came around in the Belmont Stakes and continued to go from strength to strength, winning just about every major New York stakes at 3 and 4.

In other Derby news this morning. Materiality also was out for a jog and looked sensational. He is a big, strong, handsome colt with facial markings that are reminiscent of Tiznow.

Another imposing physical specimen is Tencendur, who is all horse, with a great deal of scope, powerful quarters, and a beautiful intelligent head. He does not do enough in his works when he goes at it alone, so he works in company. Jockey Manny Franco had flown down from New York for the work and trainer George Weaver was happy with what he saw, as much of it as you could see in the dark, with the track lights off. It did appear as if Tencendur came in and bumped with his workmate a couple of times.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Ocho Ocho Ocho, who was out for the first time since arriving yesterday. He’s just a little guy, very unassuming, and if exercise rider Matt Williams took his feet out of the irons and let his legs hang down, it looked as if they would touch the ground. But small is not a bad thing in the Derby when you have to zip in and out of holes, and we saw in the Delta Jackpot that Ocho Ocho Ocho can use his sprinter’s speed at any point in the race, and he is definitely bred the get the mile and a quarter. By the way, just as a point of interest, Ocho’s broodmare sire, Horse Chestnut, was trained by none other than Mike de Kock, who will saddle Mubtaahij.

Other than that and the work by Keen Ice, there was little activity during the Derby training hours. American Pharoah and War Story both were out on the track early and Pletcher’s trio only jogged after working yesterday. Mike Maker also decided to work International Star at the Trackside Training Center, rather than van him to Churchill on a rainy miserable morning, and, of course, Carpe Diem worked at Keeneland. Upstart and Frosted worked at Palm Meadows and El Kabeir worked at Belmont, as we still have a number of Derby horses scattered all over the country, including Mubtaahij, who is at Arlington Park.

When they all converge on Churchill Downs in the next couple of days all hell will break loose.

All photos are by Steve Haskin, please ask before taking.

Itsaknockout is carrying good flesh and makes an impressive overall appearance.

Far Right could be picking them off in the stretch if he runs to his pedigree.

Materiality couldn't be looking any better, even on a wet, dreary morning.

Danzig Moon is a horse you do not want to mess around with.

Stanford before his work yesterday.


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