Pletcher-trained exacta starts sophomore campaign strong in Rego Park
by Brian Bohl
Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out a trio of contenders in Sunday’s $100,000 Rego Park for New York-bred 3-year-olds. While Pletcher conditioned the favorite in Uno, his other two entries completed the exacta, with Perfect Munnings besting Storm Shooter by two lengths at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Owned by JP Racing Stable, Perfect Munnings shined in his main track debut, building on his two-length debut score on November 29 over the Big A turf. The Munnings sophomore broke well from the outermost post was forwardly placed by jockey Manny Franco in third position as stablemate Storm Shooter led the eight-horse field through a contested opening quarter-mile in 23.35 seconds and the half in 47.81 on the fast track under pressure from Lookin for Trouble.
In the final furlong, Franco kept Perfect Munnings to task, overtaking Lookin for Trouble to his immediate inside and Storm Shooter along the rail and completed the 6 1/2-furlong sprint in a final time of 1:20.24.
“We were pretty optimistic because of the way he breezes on the dirt,” Pletcher assistant Byron Hughes said. “He showed that ability today. He had a good post and Manny [Franco] kept him in the clear and he ran well. Obviously, he’s won on turf and dirt. We’ll keep him up here for now and then we can go back to turf if we have to.
“I told Manny before the race that we probably should use the post to our advantage,” he added. “He got a clean trip and Manny did a good job keeping him out there.”
Perfect Munnings, bred by Tammy and Robert Kilmasewski, improved to 2-for-2 overall. The $50,000 purchase at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-bred Sale, more than doubled his career earnings to $93,500.
Franco said he has benefitted from the brisk pace battle.
“I was really happy stalking the two horses and when I asked my horse to go before the quarter-pole, he started running for me,” Franco said.
My RaceHorse Stable’s Storm Shooter, bred by Dr. Jerry Bilinski and ridden by Dylan Davis, bested Lookin for Trouble by 1 ¼ lengths for second.
“It was contentious, but I wanted to lead here. He does well on the lead,” Davis said. “I had to get into him early around the three-eighths pole. I didn’t want to get him collared too early because he doesn’t like too much company early.
“He keep finding more and more and for a second I thought we were going to get there but the other Pletcher horse had to come and grab me,” he added. “He ran a great race.”
Said Hughes: “He keep finding more and more and for a second I thought we were going to get there but the other Pletcher horse had to come and grab me,” he added. “He ran a great race.”
Uno gave Pletcher three-quarters of the superfecta with his fourth-place effort.
“He broke just a tick slow and looked like he got shuffled back,” Hughes said. “He also made a good run and I thought he got third when I first saw it. I thought he ran a big race, considering the start.”
Windy Nations, Blue Gator, New York One and Halpert completed the order of finish.
Live racing resumes Friday at Aqueduct with an eight-race card. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday card is slated for Monday, January 18 and features the $100,000 Interborough for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up. There will be no live racing on Thursday, January 14 to accommodate the special holiday card.