Ocean Knight takes on six rivals in G3 Discovery

December 10, 2019

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Stonestreet Stable's Ocean Knight will face graded stakes company for the first time since this spring, taking on six rivals in the Grade 3, $150,000 Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on Wednesday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Ocean Knight, a $320,000 2-year-old-in-training purchase in 2014, made waves as he closed out his juvenile season with a leisurely 4 ½-length victory in his December unveiling on the Aqueduct inner track. The Curlin colt followed up that result with a Grade 3 score in the Sam F. Davis in January at Tampa Bay Downs before turning in a disappointing seventh-place effort in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 7.

"After the Tampa Derby, we sent him home trying to figure out what happened, why he ran so poorly," said the colt's trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin. "But we gave him some time off and he's come back very well."

Ocean Knight returned to the starting gate on August 30 at Saratoga Race Course, posting a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 96 finishing a close second in a 6 ½-furlong optional claiming event. The sophomore stretched out successfully in his next race, tackling the one-turn mile at Belmont Park while facing older horses for the second time.

"He had a good comeback race after [running] second in Saratoga. He's training well and we look forward to running him," McLaughlin said. "Last time he showed a little more pace and we thought that might be good to have a little speed here going two turns. We didn't plan on it last time, but the horse on the outside pressed him and he was really game to win."

Mildly favored at 2-1, Ocean Knight will again have the services of his regular jockey, current NYRA leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. The pair will leave from post 2.

Todd Pletcher will send a formidable trio to challenge the morning-line choice, led by multiple Grade 2 winner Madefromlucky.

Owned by Cheyenne Stables and Mac Nichol, Madefromlucky boasts three wins from five starts at the Discovery's 1 1/8-mile distance, including a pair of stakes victories in the Grade 2 Peter Pan in May at Belmont and the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby in August at Mountaineer. In his most recent start, the chestnut son of Lookin At Lucky failed to fire with a seventh-place finish in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby on September 19 at Parx Racing.

Installed as the second choice on the morning line at 5-2, Madefromlucky will break from the rail with Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the irons.

Paul Pompa and All American Horses' Tommy Macho will also represent the Pletcher barn as the 4-1 third-choice on the morning line. The Macho Uno colt has faced stakes competition in his last three starts, turning in a pair of third-place finishes in his best showings in the Grade 3 Dwyer in July at Belmont and the Pennsylvania Derby.

Madefromlucky and Tommy Macho will be joined by Wertheimer and Frere's First Spark, owner of back-to-back optional claiming victories through this fall. First Spark, 12-1, will be ridden by Jose Lezcano from post 5.

Rounding out the field are Arnold Zetcher's Curlin winner Smart Transition, 5-1, making his first start for trainer John Shirreffs since finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Travers on August 29; Rick Violette-trained Made in Detroit, 10-1, coming off a hard-fought allowance win on October 3 at Belmont over a sloppy and sealed track and entered on the dirt for the first time; and Saratoga allowance winner Total Joint, 20-1, for owner Mr Amore Stable and trainer Jason Servis.

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