Bluegrass Hall LLC’s homebred Optimizer,
most recently ninth in the $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park,
is still being pointed to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May
5, according to trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
With $184,708 in graded stakes earnings, Optimizer currently is
number 24 on the graded stakes earnings list and, because the Kentucky
Derby field is limited to 20 starters, he will need a few defections to
get in the Derby starting gate. Optimizer is nominated to the
$200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on April
28, and a win in that race could safely place him in the top 20;
however, Lukas noted the race is not currently under consideration.
“We’re not planning on going in the Derby Trial,” Lukas said. “We’ll
either go with what we’ve got (graded stakes earnings) or we won’t go at
Prior to his run in the Arkansas Derby, Optimizer finished full of run when finishing second to Secret Circle in the Rebel (GII) on March 17. Lukas expected the bay son of English Channel to improve off that effort.
“I have no explanation for the way he ran (in the Arkansas Derby),”
Lukas said. “I thought he was the horse to beat. He had the best three
weeks of his life leading up to the race.”
Optimizer arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday evening and will visit
the track for the first time Thursday morning to jog. “He’s doing
great,” Lukas said.