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Optimizer Seeks Better Result in Hall of Fame

After three futile runs in the Triple Crown races, Optimizer is back in his element – grass racing – and ready to go in the Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame for 3-year-olds on Friday at the Spa.


Trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, Optimizer will be joined in the race by Skyring, another Bluegrass Hall-owned and -bred son of English Channel.


Optimizer’s sole win in 13 starts came on the grass at Saratoga last year in his debut. In his most recent race, he finished a rallying fourth in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby after being steadied at the three-sixteenths pole.


Skyring, meantime, scored three races back in the James W. Murphy Stakes on Preakness Day at Pimlico. He finished last on the dirt after that in the Easy Goer in June at Belmont Park and then moved back to the turf and was third, beaten by just a neck, in the Grade 3 American Derby at Arlington Park.


“We decided to put them both in [the Hall of Fame] because they’re homebreds and [Bluegrass Hall] owns the stallion,” Lukas said. “It might be an opportunity to showcase English Channel.


“We thought about splitting them up and running [one] in the Secretariat at Arlington. Optimizer has run well over this turf course, so we’ll see if we can duplicate that. And they don’t compromise each other. Skyring goes right to the front and Optimizer comes out of left field.”


Optimizer went off at long odds in each of the Triple Crown races but was bet down to 5-1 in the Virginia Derby, won by Silver Max. While Skyring might appear to be in better form, the two colts have similar Beyer Speed Figures.


“If you look at the film of the Virginia Derby, Optimizer was running great and should have gotten second, but he got a terrible ride,” Lukas said. “The one thing about the English Channels is they really want to train, and they get better as they get older. English Channel didn’t win a Grade 1 until he was 4.”


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