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Zipse At The Track

The Optimizer Bunny keeps going and going and going

Excuse me while I take a deep breath. Ready, set, go … Smarty Jones Stakes, Risen Star Stakes, Rebel Stakes, Arkansas Derby, Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, Belmont Stakes, Virginia Derby, Hall of Fame Stakes, Optional Claimer at Saratoga, Kent Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Turf, River City, Hollywood Turf Cup. Phew, I did it. I’m tired just reading them all off. Can you imagine actually running in all of those tough races in one calendar year?
D. Wayne Lukas is no shrinking violet, and neither are his horses, as evidenced by the kamikaze like racing schedule of his fine turf horse, Optimizer. Ahhh, notice that I said “turf” horse; as you can see in many of those difficult races, Optimizer the turf horse was not allowed to be a turf horse for much of the year. And not only did he race in many of the biggest dirt races of 2012, but to say this colt danced every dance, is like saying that little pink bunny has some staying power. 
Yesterday, in the Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap at Fair Grounds, the Optimizer Bunny notched his second stakes win on turf with an emphatic 3 ½ length score over String King. Under his most familiar rider, Jon Court, Optimizer spurted right out to the early lead with a strong first quarter, and then slowed down the pace of the 1 1/16 mile turf affair. Over a course rated good, the four year son of turf champion, English Channel, then coasted home an easy winner in 1:46.22, while notching his fourth career win from 20 starts.
“I thought (Optimizer) handled (the course) real well,” said Court. “I knew he should run really good today and was counting on it. Mr. Lukas is having some luck there at Oaklawn so I wanted to make sure I could bring some of that luck with Optimizer here today.”
“I think he likes these distances,” Court added of yesterday’s win and the two races that will follow it in Fair Grounds’ three race grass series. “If the race sets up I think he’s capable of going a mile, a mile-and-a-quarter. He’s got that in him, but it’s a matter of how things set up. He can handle it, especially on the grass. Anything over a mile is in his favor.”
I couldn’t agree more with the experienced Mr. Court, “especially on the grass,” that is the key. Optimizer has been going hot and heavy now ever since his career debut back in August of 2011 at Saratoga. A race, that not coincidentally was on the turf. It seems that Lukas knew early on that this one was best suited for the green stuff. Hopefully the great dirt experiment, or win one more Triple Crown race for D. Wayne, has been left far back in the rearview mirror. Optimizer is a grass horse; a really good one as a matter of fact. He is also an iron horse in this day of no such thing. How can you not root for a horse like this?
Run him at least once a month, Mr. Lukas, there is nothing wrong with that provided a horse thrives from the work. That’s how they used to do it in the old days. Optimizer is a throwback; a really good one as a matter of fact. Just as long as he does it all on the grass … I’ll see you both at the Arlington Million.


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Older Comments about The Optimizer Bunny keeps going and going and going...

His history would suggest otherwise
He certainly has been mismanaged, but recently seems to be on the right track (literally as well as figuratively). Maybe Lukas is ready to leave this horse on the turf and allow him to begin to thrive where he does best.
ONE thing I would wager upon: he will be mismanaged.....D Wayne tries to put square pegs in round holes even with grass monsters like Steinlin whom he tried to make a main track horse, regrettably for the owners.
forego>I question the guiding hand on one of the most mismanaged colts of 2012. Waya> out on a weak limb.
This horses is awesome. He's not the best but he's always out there. I will root for him everytime he goes out from now until he retires.
I think he will be one of the best turf horses in the country this year.
I hope he can continue to run well in 2013. He looked great yesterday.
He earned a 100 beyer for his win yesterday. He looked really good. I hope he stays sound and healthy...
Brian, as I read this blog "throwback" was the exact word that popped in my head. Lukas, Court, and Optimizer, throwback partners.
Jon Court and D. Wayne are really clicking right now. Good to see a veteran tag team get down to business
Nice write up Zipse. No question he is an Iron horse and he has the right trainer in Lukas to see him through such and aggressive campaign

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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