Saturday, November 1, 2014

Protonico splashes home to take G3 Discovery


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Protonico splashes home to take G3 Discovery

By Sean Morris

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The Todd Pletcher-trained Protonico relished the sloppy track, surging past favored Bay of Plenty at the head of the stretch and going on to win the featured Grade 3, $200,000 Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Protonico, who entered the 1 1/8-mile Discovery off a disappointing effort in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, was squeezed shortly after the start and lagged well behind the field through strong splits of 23.18 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.56 for the half set by Bay of Plenty.

Entering the far turn, Protonico began to uncoil his run while traveling four wide, and after taking command pulled clear from his rivals to prevail by 2 ¾ lengths.

"He really loved the mud, but I think he could have handled any type of surface," said winning jockey Joe Bravo. "Bottom line, don't you love Todd Pletcher? Todd knows how to get it done. I was just the passenger. The horse was very relaxed about everything and turning for home, he was just playing through there."

Since being transferred to Pletcher for his 2014 campaign, Protonico has won three of five starts, including the Grade 3 Smarty Jones. In his most recent outing - the Pennsylvania Derby - the son of Giant's Causeway finished seventh, beaten 11 ½ lengths by Breeders' Cup Classic hopeful Bayern.

"Things didn't go quite right [in the Pennsylvania Derby]; we might have run him back a little too soon," said Byron Hughes, assistant to Pletcher. "Every morning he shows he can run at any time. He hasn't missed a beat since and had been training great. We'll see how he comes out and go from there."

Protonico completed the distance in 1:51.92 and returned $13.60 to win. The winner's share of $120,000 bumped his career bankroll to $389,715.

Bay of Plenty, the 3-2 favorite, held second by a half-length over Just Call Kenny, who finished six lengths clear of Our Caravan. Away Game, Noble Moon, and Three Alarm Fire completed the order of finish.


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