Starlight hoping for change of luck

Don Lucarelli said he’ll faint if Itsaknockout wins the 141st Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Don Lucarelli said he’ll faint if Itsaknockout wins the 141st Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Chances are slim that Luc­arelli will be anything but wide awake and in a standing position after the race. But it’s still a big thrill for the Schen­ectady native and his fellow Starlight Racing partners to be at Churchill Downs in Louisville this week.

Starlight has some history at the Derby, all of it bad, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still trying to make something happen in the Run for the Roses.

On the contrary, this is exactly the kind of stage they want to be on.

Itsaknockout is 30-1 on the morning line and will break from post No. 12, sliding one stall inside after stablemate Stanford was scratched by trainer Todd Pletcher on Thursday, allowing the Nick Zito-trained Frammento to enter the field off the also-eligible list.

Pletcher said Stanford is fine, but the No. 11 post wasn’t advantageous, so he will wait for the Preakness or Peter Pan.

In the meantime, he still has three in the Derby field, and of those, Itsaknockout, is by far the longest shot, but at least got a favorable post.

“Are we the horse to beat? No. That’s the California invaders,” Lucarelli said, referring to the top two favorites, American Pharoah and Dortmund. “But it’s all about the trip, and we got a great post.

“He doesn’t like being inside. We just want a good trip, and then hopefully, he’s got some running left when they get into the stretch. If he hits the board, great; if he wins, I’ll faint.”

Lucarelli, who lives in Duanesburg with his wife, Barbara, is co-managing partner with Jack Wolf.

The 10 Starlight partners include New York Giants vice president of player personnel Chris Mara.

Wolf and Mara met at a charity golf outing in Saratoga Springs through a mutual friend, Shaker High School graduate Bill Lawrence, who owns horses in partnership with Klaravich Stables.

“He did his homework,” Lucarelli said of Mara. “He’s a hell of a handicapper. My kind of guy. He studies the [Ragozin] sheets and the [Daily Racing] Form.”

Before Lucarelli teamed up with Wolf, Wolf started Starlight and had the 6-1 post-time favorite — Harlan’s Holiday — in the 2002 Derby. He finished seventh.

Since Lucarelli joined, the stable has sent five horses to the Derby, and none has finished better than ninth.

Keyed Entry was last of 20 in 2006, Sam P. was ninth in 2007 and Monba was last of 20 in 2008.

In recent years, Starlight has had good prospects, like Algorithms and 2012 Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old colt Shanghai Bobby, but they missed the Derby due to injury.

Last year, Starlight ended the five-year dry spell, with Intense Holiday and General a Rod, who was purchased privately in partnership with Skychai Racing a week before the Derby.

Both looked like pretty good contenders, but General a Rod finished 11th and Intense Holiday 12th.

It was the last race for the promising Intense Holiday, who suffered a condylar fracture during a workout in preparation for the Belmont Stakes, then developed laminitis and was euthanized.

Itsaknockout won the Fountain of Youth by disqualification, then was fourth in the Florida Derby.

He needed a good work over the Churchill surface last weekend to convince Pletcher to run, and the colt produced it.

“There’s a lot less pressure, definitely, with this one,” Lucarelli said. “Intense Holiday was training unbelievably and sitting on the right race.

“This is what the partnerships are about. We’re trying to get to the big races. They’ll all show up, and win, lose or draw, they’ll all have a good time.”

The fun actually begins for the Lucarellis today.

Barbara is co-managing partner of StarLadies Racing with Laurie Wolf, and they have 20-1 Eskenformoney in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks.

Starlight Racing also has another 3-year-old colt waiting in the wings.

Two Weeks Off is pointing toward the Peter Pan, and would be considered for the June 6 Belmont Stakes if he runs well there.


The much-anticipated matchup of the last two Belmont Stakes winners on Saturday won’t happen now, after Palace Malice was declared from the Grade III Westchester at Belmont Park.

Dogwood Stable managing partner Cot Campbell said Palace Malice has a bruised right front foot and will wait for the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes Day.

That leaves 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist to face just three horses in the Westchester.

Categories: -Sports-

Leave a Reply