February 17, 2019

Lukas confirms Bravazo for Risen Star, Kentucky Club a probable scratch

Bravazo rolled to a convincing maiden win at Churchill Downs last September (c) Coady Photo

D. Wayne Lukas entered Bravazo and Kentucky Club to Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds but with Monday’s $500,000 Southwest (G3) being held at his Oaklawn Park base, the Hall of Fame conditioner had been hedging on whether to ship the 3-year-olds to New Orleans.

He confirmed Bravazo for the Risen Star on Tuesday and indicated Kentucky Club would probably scratch.

“I’m committing (Bravazo) to the race so I’m running down there,” the four-time Kentucky Derby winner said.

Bravazo certainly has the bigger profile of the pair, finishing second in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) last fall and opening 2018 with an entry-level allowance score at Oaklawn Park. Kentucky Club is exiting an eight-length victory over maiden claiming rivals in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

“That was a really good race, (Bravazo) got a good number,” Lukas said of pupil’s sophomore return on January 13. “I think we can be competitive. I feel like he’s a competitive horse and a lot of the horses in the race have a lot have similar numbers. The race is 50 points (in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series) and I think that he merits a chance.”

A Calumet Farm homebred son of Awesome Again, Bravazo is listed at 8-1 on the Risen Star morning line and Gary Stevens will retain the mount.

Kentucky Club, who is from the first crop of Lukas-trained Preakness (G1) winner Oxbow, needed six starts to break his maiden but did so in convincing fashion last time. He’s been pegged as a 30-1 outsider in the Risen Star with James Graham.

“I may leave him home and run him (at Oaklawn Park),” Lukas said. “He ran a huge race even if it was against claiming horses, but it would be a huge step for him and he’s got a lot of options and still can run through his conditions. I want to see how the (Southwest Stakes) comes up. We’d like to try him a little longer at some point.”

Lukas has won two previous editions of the Risen Star with Exchange Rate (2000) and Open Forum (1997).