Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. hit a career milestone of 2,500 victories Saturday at Gulfstream Park when Florida-bred Raging Fury drew off to win the sixth race.

Florida-bred Raging Fury – Lauren King Photo

Sent to the post at odds of 4-1 in the $35,000 claiming for 3-year-old, non-winners of two races, Raging Fury and jockey Edgard Zayas took control midway around the far turn then pulled away from his rivals in the lane to cross the under the wire four-lengths in front. They finished in a time of 1:17.89 on the fast track and Raging Fury paid $10.20 to win.

“I feel very fortunate. I’ve been very blessed in this game. I’ve been blessed with great owners. I’ve been blessed with great support, especially from my wife and family,” Plesa said.

His wife, Laurie, owns Racing Fury with longtime client Donald Mensh.

“Laurie just asked me, ‘How do you feel?’ I said, ‘Who would have thought I would ever win 2,500 races?’”

Plesa just missed hitting the 2,500-win mark two races earlier when he saddled Toxic Gray to a second-place finish, just a neck shy of Florida-bred Absolute Grit. Two races after Raging Fury’s victory, Florida-bred Epona’s Hope awarded Plesa with win No. 2,501, an upset victory in the eighth-race feature, a first condition, $75,000 optional claiming for 3-year-old fillies going five furlongs on turf.

Epona’s Hope paid $32.20 to win.

The highly respected 74-year-old trainer watched the milestone victory in Ocala, where he will attend next week’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales Spring Sale.

“I’m up here for a reason. I’m not up here for the weather,” Plesa said. “I’m not quite ready to hang it up. We bought a couple of 2-year-olds earlier in the year. I’m going to see if I can buy a couple more right now.”

Through Saturday, Plesa has trained 12,293 starters with earnings of $63,748,643. He began his career in 1980 when he saddled one horse to a second-place finish according statistics published by Equibase. He trained one starter in 1981 then began training more horses in 1982 when he had 17 winners from 138 starters.

Plesa has a long list of stakes winners including Itsmyluckyday, a multiple graded-stakes winner with earnings of $1.7 million who took the Grade 1 Woodward in 2014 and was second to Oxbow in the 2013 Preakness (G1). Other top horses from the Plesa barn include multiple graded stakes-winning Florida-bred Best of the Rest, an earner of $1.4 million who won the 2003 Skip Away (G3) at Calder Race Course; Florida-bred Gottcha Gold, a multiple graded-stakes winner who was second to Corinthian in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Monmouth Park; and Florida-bred Three Ring, winner of the 1999 Acorn (G1) and third in 1998 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs.

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