Lukas Runners Take More Steps on Derby Road

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4:09 pm EST

Three-Pronged Attack

At this point, the stable of D. Wayne Lukas is taking three routes on the 2018 Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Bravazo, winner of the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, is taking the obvious route  with the Louisiana Derby at the same track now officially penciled in on his schedule. It would be his final prep for the Kentucky Derby. Bravazo already has enough Derby points to make the race. Bravazo, who races for Calumet Farm, is atop the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 54 points.

Sporting Chance, third in last Monday's Southwest Stakes, is making preparations to return in Oaklawn Park's Rebel Stakes, Lukas said today.

Making his first start after a long layoff, Sporting Chance was beaten seven lengths by a ground-saving My Boy Jack in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest, which was run over a muddy track.

“It was good, coming off the layoff,” Lukas said. “We only started training him Dec. 10. I was really pleased.”

Lukas noted the trouble Sporting Chance and jockey Luis Saez encountered approaching the eighth pole, when they were squeezed by Combatant on the outside and Mourinho, a tiring front-runner, on the inside. There was a stewards’ inquiry into the stretch run, but no change in the order of finish.

“He recovered, but for them to look at that and not think that he was impeded in his progress, when he was making his move, is ridiculous,” Lukas said. “They broke his momentum. It was obvious.”

Lukas said Sporting Chance was where he needed to be in the Southwest, stalking Mourinho along the inside, which yielded winner after winner on Monday’s 10-race card, before shifting out a path turning for home.

“He was placed well,” Lukas said. “The way the race turned out, I guess, if Luis would have stayed on the rail, it would have really made a difference. He had the rail. He was inside there, and I think he thought he might get trapped, so he angled out. But had he stayed inside, he might have been really been prominently placed, and he would have probably avoided the traffic problem, too. I mean, that’s race riding. What the hell?”

Lukas said he could breeze Sporting Chance three times in advance of the Rebel. “(He's) going to be a lot tighter in the Rebel,” Lukas said. “A lot tighter, having that race underneath his belt.”

Lukas now has Transgress, narrowly beaten in an Oaklawn allowance race staged just after the Southwest, pointing to the Sunland Derby on March 25 at Sunland Park.

Sporting Chance and Transgress are owned by Lukas’ longtime clients, Robert Baker and William Mack.

By Dick Downey with content from Oaklawn Park release