Saratoga Springs, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Four weeks after meeting in the Whitney Handicap, Itsmyluckyday turned the tables on Moreno and captured Saturday's 60th running of the $600,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
In the Whitney, Moreno set the pace and held off Itsmyluckyday to win by 1 1/4 lengths. For the 1 1/8-mile Woodward, same distance as the Whitney, Itsmyluckyday and jockey Paco Lopez stalked pacesetter Moreno and his rider Junior Alvarado. The two 4-year-olds went off as 5-2 co-favorites.
Moreno took the lead as the field went under the wire for the first time with Itsmyluckyday running second in the nine-horse field with eight betting interests.
Itsmyluckyday, who broke from the inside post, drew along side of Moreno on the final turn. Moreno had a short lead at the top of the stretch, but Itsmyluckyday, trained by Eddie Plesa for Trilogy Stable and wife Laurie, doggedly stuck with his rival and was able to post a half-length victory.
The two bumped approaching the finish with Alvarado appearing to stand up before the wire. The stewards posted the "Inquiry" sign and Alvarado lodged an objection, but the stewards found no reason to change the order of finish.
"He deserved it," Plesa said waiting for the stewards' decision. "He won this race. They're going to leave him up, there's nothing he did wrong other than win and I couldn't be anymore proud of him."
Itsmyluckyday stopped the timer at 1:48.84 on a fast track, just short of the Whitney's 1:48.05.
"I think he took the game to Moreno today," Plesa said on national television. "He didn't back up. Needless to say Moreno ran a fantastic race. And they ran down there like two champions would run down with each other. We were on the winning end and that's what it's all about."
Finishing third was 24-1 longshot Prayer for Relief with 3-1 third pick Zivo getting fourth. Completing the order of finish were Stephanoatsee, Last Gunfighter, Long River, Romansh and Norumbega. Micromanage was scratched to race Monday.
Itsmyluckyday recorded his largest payday with the Woodward victory. The colt, who was second in last year's Preakness, pocketed $360,000 and won for the fourth time in six starts this season. The 4-year-old has career earnings of $1,662,600 with nine wins from 19 starts.
Itsmyluckyday began the year with a fourth-place finish behind Palace Malice in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. He put together a three-race win streak of Gulfstream's Best of the Rest Stakes along with Monmouth Park's Majestic Light Stakes and Salvator Mile.
As a 3-year-old, Itsmyluckyday won the Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull Stakes with seconds in the Florida Derby and Preakness Stakes. He finished a disappointing 15th in last year's Kentucky Derby.
Itsmyluckyday paid $7.70, $3.70 and $3.00. Moreno returned $4.20 and $3.00, and Prayer for Relief paid $6.00 to show.