Bravazo ‘a stronger, better horse’ for a Clark comeback

November 11, 2019 12:22pm
Bravazo ‘a stronger, better horse’ for a Clark comeback
Photo: Bee Buck Photography

D. Wayne Lukas, who underwent back surgery last month, has returned to work at Churchill Downs. And he was glad to be on hand Monday when stable star Bravazo breezed a bullet half mile toward a Grade 1 return.

“Watching that work this morning made me feel pretty good,” the Hall of Fame trainer said.

Bravazo, who capped his 2018 season with a neck defeat in Churchill Downs’ Clark (G1), will get the opportunity to do one better in the Nov. 29 renewal. The 1 1/8-mile race could then springboard the Calumet Farm homebred son of Awesome Agan to lucrative races in 2020, starting with the $9 million Pegasus World Cup (G1).

“That’s the long-range, grandiose idea,” Lukas said.

Bravazo last raced in the 2019 edition of the Pegasus, finishing fourth behind City of Light. He was then pointed to the Dubai World Cup (G1) before undergoing knee surgery early in the spring, knocking him out for most of the year.

The 4-year-old colt has worked consistently since Oct. 6.

“He’s looking very good,” Lukas said. “He’s filled out. The time off didn’t hurt him a bit. I think he’s a stronger, better horse. We’ll see when the gate opens.”

Lukas sent Bravazo to the track Monday with a stablemate he positioned five to six lengths in front.

“He caught him at the top of the stretch and ran by him,” the trainer said. “It was pretty impressive.”

Lukas was less concerned about the workmate, however, and more wanting to see a swift final quarter of a mile. Bravazo got it in 23 3/5 on his way to completing the drill in 59 4/5 for the five furlongs.

The only horse other than Justify to appear in all three legs of the 2018 Triple Crown series, Bravazo won the Risen Star (G2) to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, then cashed some big checks as a runner-up in the Preakness Stakes, Haskell Invitational (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

When Prime Attraction faded from the pace in last year’s Clark, Bravazo closed, but not quite as fast as the winner that day, Leofric. The chart notes embody one of racing’s war horses: “long drive, game effort.”

Lukas said connections settled on the Clark as opposed to traveling for the Dec. 7 Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct. It didn’t hurt their feelings that leading 3-year-old Maximum Security will remain home in New York for that event.

“I saw that,” Lukas said. “We considered both races but finally landed on the Clark coming out of our own stall training here. It makes more sense for a comeback race.”

2019 Clark Handicap (G1)


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