HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) My Point Exactly has taken a most unconventional path to the Florida Derby.
That seems to fit his connections perfectly.
On one hand, the last time My Point Exactly lost a race was more than eight months ago. And that being said, the last time My Point Exactly so much as ran a race was nearly seven months ago. He's going to try to crash the party on Saturday, part of an expected nine in the field for the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
''I can't say to all the wiseguys, go out and bet this horse,'' said Adam Lazarus, the managing partner of Pinnacle Racing Stable, part of the horse's ownership group. ''It'd be really unfair. ... There's not anything in this race that would say `Man, I'm going to go get my mortgage payment and let's dump it on My Point Exactly.' It's not going to work that way.''
So why bother?
Simple - finish first or second, and a trip to the Kentucky Derby is virtually guaranteed. Even a third-place showing on Saturday might be enough to qualify under the points system used to determine the 20-horse field that will head to Churchill Downs for the sport's signature race. And while a planned break followed by an unplanned illness kept My Point Exactly off the track since September, he did win his last two starts including a romp over the dirt at Gulfstream.
''It'd be the biggest race I've ever won in Florida and I've been doing this for 35 years,'' said Bill Kaplan, the horse's trainer. ''Don't forget, if you win this race, you know where your next stop is going to be.''
Upstart and Itsaknockout will be the favorites, and deservedly so, but if there's a wild card in the Florida Derby it might be this gelding who has bounced back and forth between dirt and turf in his four career outings to date.
Purchased for $65,000, My Point Exactly didn't take long to convince Kaplan that he was destined to be better over longer distances. His first two starts last summer were five- and six-furlong sprints, one on the turf and one on the dirt, and he wasn't near the front in either.
His third start was stretched out to a mile and he won by more than 10 lengths. He followed that with a win in the Sunday Silence Stakes, and hasn't raced since.
''He's been training great,'' Kaplan said. ''We'd like to have had a prep race, but we'll be OK.''
Patience was everything. That was the first lesson Lazarus learned when got into the racing game, promptly losing his first 22 starts. It's not what he envisioned when he caught the racing bug when he really started focusing on the game from the grandstand at Calder Race Course a few years back.
''I tried to get a job as a sportscaster right out of college when my family moved down here,'' Lazarus said. ''But at that time I was very big into fantasy sports. I played baseball in college, I was really into it, but I didn't want to participate in softball. So I found myself at Calder and somehow the fantasy at Calder and watching the thoroughbreds I wanted to get involved.''
He's not a deep-pocketed owner. Racing is his side job. He's spent the last 20-plus years selling photocopiers for Xerox, and leads a group with plenty of partners.
With a little luck, they might be Kentucky-bound in a few weeks.
''I don't think anyone here has any grandiose plans,'' Lazarus said. ''We want the horse to come out of this race well, looking forward to the future. ... But the feeling you get when your horse wins, it's indescribable.''