Belmont Park, 8th Race - May 10, 2008
ELMONT, N.Y. -- Lucky Island continued his emergence as a potential top-flight sprinter with a strong 2 1/4-length victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $109,100 Bold Ruler Handicap at Belmont Park.
Man of Danger, who set the pace, finished second by two lengths over Forefathers. Executive Fleet, the 2-1 favorite, finished sixth of seven.
The victory was the fourth from five career starts for Lucky Island, a 4-year-old Argentine-bred son of Lucky Roberto, and third straight since trainer Kiaran McLaughlin put him on Lasix. Lucky Island is owned by Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell Stable.
Under Alan Garcia, Lucky Island chased the pace from the inside while Man of Danger set fractions of 21.95 seconds and 45.06 for the opening half-mile. Garcia got Lucky Island off the rail approaching the quarter pole and he ran past Man of Danger inside the eighth pole en route to the victory. Lucky Island ($9.20) covered six furlongs in 1:09.14 over a fast track.
"This was a big step up from a 'two-other-than,' but he proved that he's that kind," McLaughlin said. "He just had to squeeze out of there, force himself out a little bit, but it felt like he was always a winner. He looked great down in there with a lot of horse. It was very impressive."
McLaughlin said Rick Nichols, the racing manager for Shadwell, bought four Argentine-bred horses last year and was hoping to take one or more to Dubai for the rich Dubai World Cup card in March.
But when McLaughlin ran Lucky Island in a first-level allowance race at Calder in December, the horse bled while finishing last. There is no race-day medication allowed in Dubai, so Lucky Island did not make the trip. But he could have a bright future in the United States.
"He's just a great mover, very nice horse, the only negative was he's a bleeder," McLaughlin said. "But we have Lasix, we're in good shape and he's a very nice horse."