August 17, 2018

Bravazo, Tenfold could rematch Justify in Belmont Stakes

Justify wins the 143rd Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico over Bravazo (far left), Tenfold (second from left) and Good Magic (far right) on Saturday, May 19, 2018 (c) Matt Wooley/EquiSport Photos

Bravazo and Tenfold, who were separated by only a neck when second and third, respectively, in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico, could both return in the June 9 Belmont Stakes (G1) for another try at Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness winner Justify.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas gave every indication on Sunday that Bravazo would join Justify in competing in all three legs of the Triple Crown. The dark bay sophomore, a Calumet Farm homebred, finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5 and returned Saturday to rally for a half-length second in the Preakness.

“(Calumet Farm owner) Mr. (Brad) Kelley wants to and I’d like to take him,” Lukas said of running in the Belmont Stakes. “He’s a tough little horse and I think his pedigree will let him run that far. So we’ll take him on and see what happens.”

Bravazo was doing well on Sunday and joined stablemate Sporting Chance, also in good order following a sixth-placing in the Preakness, and Lukas’ stable pony Starbuck well before dawn for a van ride back to Churchill Downs.

“I was very, very pleased with the way (Bravazo) woke up this morning,” said Lukas, who rode in the cab of the truck pulling the van. “He was very sharp and we made a few turns around the shedrow. He was very sharp. That part was excellent.

“I just loved the way he ran. We’d like to have won it, but I think we needed another 15 yards and maybe we could have gotten it done. After studying the video we were running the fastest of any of them at the end.”

Lukas had been touting Bravazo the entire week leading up to the Preakness. The Awesome Again sophomore’s last win came by a nose in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds on February 17.

“If you can be satisfied with second, I am. I’m so competitive that second is not good enough in my mindset, but having said that, if you can handle second, it was a damn good one,” Lukas said.

“I really thought he would run big,” he added. “(Trainer) Bob (Baffert) and I talked and I thought Bob’s horse (Justify) was definitely going to be a tough horse to beat. But I felt that we would really keep him honest. All week I thought we had a horse that would respond back in two weeks, which he did. I just felt that we would make it really interesting, and we did.”

The trainer said Sporting Chance would be receiving a break before heading to Saratoga.

Tenfold was also on a van back to Louisville, Kentucky, on Sunday for trainer Steve Asmussen. The dark bay son of Curlin was making only his second stakes start in the Preakness after exiting a fifth-placing in the April 14 Arkansas Derby (G1).

Asmussen said Tenfold is a candidate for the Belmont Stakes but wouldn’t make a decision on entering until about a week before the 150th running of the “Test of the Champion.”

“We are definitely considering it. I did decide to move him back to Churchill,” Asmussen said. “I want to feel as good going into the Belmont as we were coming into here, that you would fire your best shot.”

Tenfold rallied from midpack as the 26-1 longest shot in the eight-horse Preakness, just missing second by a neck while holding champion and Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic to fourth by that same margin.

“I was, obviously, pleased with his effort,” Asmussen said. “With the way the race unfolded in the fog, it was extremely difficult to truly assess everything that happened because we saw so little.

“I thought he would be a little closer,” the Hall of Fame conditioner added in regards to the first turn. “He worked himself into a great position down the backside when they went into the turn and out of view. Then what did we see, the last between eighth and sixteenth of the mile of the race? He was beaten three-quarters in the Preakness. The horse has a tremendous frame and physical (build) and is a great mover. I think there are very good things ahead for him.”

Justify will face some familiar foes other than Bravazo, and possibly Tenfold, in the Belmont Stakes.

Hofburg, Vino Rosso and Free Drop Billy are all expected to return in the third jewel of the Triple Crown from respective seventh, ninth and 16th-place runs in the Kentucky Derby. Others pointing to the race are Blended Citizen, winner of the May 12 Peter Pan Stakes (G2) going nine furlongs over Big Sandy, and Gronkowski, was earned an invitation to the Run for the Roses as the highest point earner in the European Road to the Kentucky Derby but was forced to miss the race after developing an infection.

Florida Derby (G1) victor Audible, who missed second in the Kentucky Derby by only a head, and multiple Grade 1-placed Solomini, 10th behind stablemate Justify in the Derby, are both possible for the Belmont Stakes.

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