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Lukas Seeks More Stakes Glory With Optimizer

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who successfully shipped Bluegrass Hall’s Oxbow to New Orleans last week to win the Grade III Lecomte Stakes at the local oval, has another horse who is favored at 7-2 in the morning line to keep the trainer’s stakes streak intact when Bluegrass Hall’s Optimizer invades from Oaklawn Park for Saturday’s Grade III Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Following his local tally in the Lecomte, Lukas saddled Willis Horton’s Will Take Charge to capture Oaklawn’s Smarty Jones Stakes last Monday.

The Col. Bradley, for grass-favoring older horses at about 1 1/16-miles, is the first of three graded stakes that will be run over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course this season and was postponed a week to allow the local grass course time to dry out from inclement weather that hit the area mid-month.

Optimizer, who gets in the Col. Bradley with 117 pounds, has been idle since finishing third in the Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup Dec. 15 but breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 at Oaklawn on Jan. 16. Jockey Jon Court, who rode Oxbow to victory in the Lecomte, will journey to the Crescent City once again Saturday for the mount on Optimizer, and was also aboard that 4-year-old son of English Channel when he won the Grade III Kent Stakes at Delaware Park last September.

Sure to provide strong competition for Optimizer is Chester Miller and Patrick Dupuy’s Strike Impact, who took command entering the lane in the Diliberto Memorial and continued with good courage the rest of the way to be best by a length. Trained by Pat Dupuy, Strike Impact is assigned 117 pounds Saturday, most of which will be made up by jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, and has been installed as the 4-1 second choice in the morning line.

Assigned the top impost of 120 pounds in the Col. Bradley, and third choice in the morning line at 9-2, is Melnyk Racing Stables’ James Street, who closed willingly to finish fifth beaten less than two lengths after racing wide in Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Diliberto Memorial Handicap in his last start Dec. 22. Trained by Josie Carroll, James Street will be ridden Saturday by John Jacinto.

Completing the field for the Col. Bradley, with respective jockeys, weights and odds assigned, is David Holloway Racing’s Dubious Miss, Mark Guidry, 117 (6-1); Stone Farm’s Trend, Richard Eramia, 113 (6-1); Adele Dilschneider’s Unlatch, Brian Hernandez Jr., 115 (8-1); Charles Craig Smith’s String King, James Graham, 115 (10-1); Chuck and Ella Lou Hagaman’s Bim Bam, Gerard Melancon, 115 (10-1); and Amerman Racing’s Tetradrachm, Leandro Goncalves, 114 (10-1).



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