By Jennifer Hoyt —-
D. Wayne Lukas; Oaklawn Photo
Lukas Eying Options for Bravazo Should Southwest Stakes Split
Bravazo is entered in the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the son of Awesome Again will run in the major Kentucky Derby prep race, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Saturday morning.
Citing the possibility that the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 19 may split because of a rush at the entry box, Lukas said Bravazo could run in Oaklawn’s second major Kentucky Derby prep rather than ship to New Orleans for the Feb. 17 race.
“He could go there, and he could stay here,” Lukas said. “The split here, with $500,000 on both sides, I like the idea of running out of my own barn. The 50 points down there is definitely a consideration.”
Lukas already has Grade 1 winner Sporting Chance penciled in for the Southwest, which offers 17 points to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. The Risen Star awards 85 points to the top four finishers (50-20-10-5).
The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 starters, with points earned in designated races like the Southwest and Risen Star used to determine starting eligibility if the first leg of the Triple Crown overfills.
Both the Southwest and Risen Star are 1 1/16 miles.
Bred and owned by Calumet Farm, Bravazo finished second in the $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) Oct. 7 at Keeneland before winning a split allowance/optional claimer going a mile Jan. 13 at Oaklawn in his 3-year-old debut.
Lukas also entered another Calumet Farm homebred, Kentucky Club, in the Risen Star. Kentucky Club broke his maiden for a $30,000 claiming tag Jan. 27 at Oaklawn.
“The 50 points, you can’t overlook that any more in today’s program,” Lukas said. “Plan on having two (in the Southwest). I plan to enter two and hope to get a split.”
Bravazo and Kentucky Club drew posts 7 and 8, respectively for the Risen Star. Post positions for the Southwest will be drawn Friday.
Lukas said Sporting Chance, depending on the weather, is scheduled to have his final work for the Southwest Sunday or Monday.
“I’ve got a little leeway because it’s a Monday race,” Lukas said.
Sporting Chance, a son of 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow, hasn’t started since winning the $350,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1) Sept. 4 at Saratoga after having a knee chip removed following the 7-furlong race.
Sporting Chance has recorded five works at Oaklawn since Jan. 9, including a 6-furlong move from the gate last Sunday morning. Sporting Chance, who breezed in company, went in 1:13.80 over a fast track.
“That was the one we asked him a little bit more, to see what we had, to see what kind of condition he’s in,” Lukas said.
A $575,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduate, Sporting Chance is owned by Lukas’ longtime clients, Robert Baker and William Mack. Sporting Chance has won 2 of 3 career starts.
Oaklawn’s four-race Kentucky Derby prep series continues with the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 17 and $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 14.
Racing Secretary Pat Pope said there was a distinct possibility the Southwest Stakes would split if there was between 18 and 20 entries. Each division would be worth $500,000, carry Grade 3 status and offer 17 total points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility. Oaklawn has split the Southwest three other times in the 53-year history of the race with the most recent being in 2012 when each division carried a $250,000 purse. It would mark first time in racing history that a $500,000 race was split and kept its original purse.
Leandro Goncalves is “tentatively” scheduled to resume riding Feb. 16 after being injured in Friday’s second race, the jockey’s agent, Chuck Costanzo, said Saturday morning.
Goncalves was unseated after his mount, Dareandaprayer, “stumbled badly after travelling the first sixteenth of a mile” in the sprint for older $8,000 claimers, according to footnotes from the official race chart.
Goncalves was transported by ambulance to CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs with ankle, femur and neck soreness, Costanzo said, before being released later Friday.
“We’ve got to go see a specialist Monday to get a final release, but tentatively he’s good to go next Friday,” Costanzo said.
Goncalves, riding regularly at Oaklawn for the first time this year, is named on one horse Saturday, one horse Sunday and two horses Thursday. Entries for Feb. 16 were to be drawn Saturday.
A native of Brazil, Goncalves has 1,753 victories and $38,503,913 in purse earnings in his North American career, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Goncalves rode his first North American winner in 2007.
The jockey’s top mounts include graded stakes winners Bourbon Courage, Sum of the Parts and Satans Quick Chick.
Dareandaprayer was captured without incident following the race.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and Robertino Diodoro, Oaklawn’s second-leading trainer last year, each won two races on Friday’s nine-race card.
Diodoro swept the early daily double, winning the first race with Spur ($8) and second race with Minister Nick ($7.20). Minister Nick gave newcomer David Cohen his 14th victory at the meet, breaking a tie with David Cabrera for leading rider.
Minister Nick also represented the seventh victory at the meet for leading owner M & M Racing (Michael Sisk).
Asmussen struck with two first-time starters – favored South Beach ($5.60) in the fourth race and Triple Crown nominee Tenfold ($13.20) in the seventh race.
South Beach, 4-year-old son of Tapit, was a $1.8 million 2-year-old in training purchase. Tenfold, a son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, was a front-running 5 ¾-length winner at 1 1/16 miles for owner/breeder Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC. Asmussen saddled Curlin to win Oaklawn’s Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby in 2007.
Tenfold gave five-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. a triple, pulling him into a second-place tie in the standings with 13 victories. He also rode South Beach.
Brad Cox continues to top the trainer standings with 12 victories, two more than Diodoro. Asmussen, who has won eight Oaklawn training titles since 2007, is third with nine victories.
The track was rated muddy for workouts Saturday morning. … Cool Alley, a 3-year-old Run Away and Hide filly, moved closer to her career debut with a 6-furlong work from the gate in 1:14.20 Saturday morning for trainer Mike Johnson. … The Johnson-trained Bonhomme represented the first Oaklawn starter for track president Louis Cella and his brother, John Cella, in Thursday’s ninth race. Bonhomme was previously campaigned by their father, Charles Cella, Oaklawn’s president from 1968 until his death in December. … Lone Rock, fourth in a Jan. 13 split allowance/optional claimer for 3-year-olds, is on the shelf for 30 days with a minor physical problem, trainer Will VanMeter said Saturday morning. VanMeter said he hopes the Majestic Warrior colt will resurface before the meeting ends April 14. … Oaklawn reached 100 claims at the meeting Thursday, the 15th day of racing. … New Arkansas Razorbacks football coach Chad Morris was a press box visitor Friday. Morris was the featured speaker Friday night at the annual Ronnie Roach Football Clinic in Hot Springs.