Bravazo continued his progression for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas in Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, getting up late to record his first stakes victory in the Kentucky Derby qualifier. The 3-year-old son of Awesome Again was overlooked as the 21-1 sixth choice among nine runners and Miguel Mena picked up the mount on the Calumet Farm homebred.
By virtue of the nose decision, Bravazo virtually guaranteed himself a berth in the 2018 Kentucky Derby field picking up a 50-point prize. That’s easily been enough to qualify for the first leg of the Triple Crown since the scoring system was inaugurated in 2013 and the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star was worth a combined 85 points (50-20-10-5 scale) as the first race in the Championship Series of the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
The dark bay colt overhauled Snapper Sinclair in the final strides and it was a tough beat for the pacesetter, who was dismissed at 41-1 odds despite recording a respectable third in the January 13 Lecomte (G3) in his previous outing. The Steve Asmussen-trained runner-up established splits in :24.15, :47.96 and 1:12.85 while being chased by Bravazo from the start and wound up two lengths clear of 5-2 second choice and third-placer Noble Indy, who sustained his first defeat making his stakes bow for Todd Pletcher.
Instilled Regard wound up fourth as the 7-5 favorite. The Lecomte winner enjoyed an ideal stalking trip in fourth down the backstretch and menacingly advanced into a threatening positioning on the far turn before coming up empty in the stretch, winding up a neck back of Noble Indy on the wire.
High North, Ebben, Principe Guilherme, Givemeaminit and Supreme Aura came next under the wire and Kentucky Club was scratched.
Bravazo stopped the teletimer in 1:42.95 on the fast track.
“It’s very exciting and I’m very thankful to Mr. Lukas because they gave me the chance on such a nice horse and the connections, Calumet Farm,” Mena said. “The horse came out sharp and he was on the bridle nice. I was confident and had a lot of horse. The horse on the inside was hard to beat, I didn’t know if I had it. But thankfully I did, I have a nice horse.”
Runner-up in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) last fall in his stakes debut, Bravazo began to tail off when recording a non-threatening third in the Street Sense and a 10th in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in his juvenile finale. He’s turned things around at age 3 for four-time Kentucky Derby winner Lukas, opening 2018 with a fast entry-level allowance score at Oaklawn Park on January 13, and Lukas indicated Bravazo could return to the New Orleans oval for the $1 million TwinSpires Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 24.
Bred in Kentucky, Bravazo is the first foal from the Cee’s Tizzy mare Tiz O’ Gold and has now earned $426,528 from a 7-3-1-1 record.