After toying with the idea of running Optimizer
in the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap on dirt August
3, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has opted to point his
multiple-graded stakes winner toward the Grade 1, $600,000 Sword Dancer
Invitational on August 17.
race is a 1 ½-mile grass race, and Lukas said Wednesday morning he is
leaning in that direction rather than the Grade 1 Arlington Million the
same afternoon at Arlington Park.
put him in there to take a look at it," Lukas said of nominating
Optimizer to the Whitney. "He ran a pretty decent race on the dirt the
last time he ran on it."
a 5-year-old son of English Channel, won back-to-back Grade 3 turf
stakes this past winter at the Fair Grounds. While he has not been to
the winner's circle in his past six starts, he finished second to Horse
of the Year Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on May
4 at Churchill Downs and second to Point of Entry in the Grade 1
Woodford Reserve Manhattan on June 8 at Belmont Park.
his most recent start, Optimizer was fifth in the Grade 1 Man o' War on
July 13 at Belmont Park, having raced farther off the pace than
normally over a turf course labeled "good."
didn't care for the surface," Lukas said. "He bobbled all the way
around there. I didn't like the way he was handling the grass on that
particular day. He's run on every kind of surface, every place in the
world. He runs every time you lead him over there. I think we'll run in
the Sword Dancer."
Optimizer's stablemate, Skyring
, is preparing for his own confrontation with Wise Dan in the Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on August 10.