by Fair Grounds Press Release
February 17, 2018
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas shipped Bravazo from his Oaklawn Park base to the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and it was well worth the trip for “The Coach” as he sprung a 21-1 upset in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Saturday afternoon where he earned 50 points on Churchill Downs’ Road to The Kentucky Derby.
The son of Awesome Again sat just off a slow pace led by 41-1 longshot Snapper Sinclair who set opening fractions of 24.15, 47.96 and 1:12.85 with the eventual winner breathing right down his neck in the second spot. The two fought it out the whole way going down the Fair Grounds stretch but Bravazo got his nose on the wire right in time to edge out Snapper Sinclair, who was third in the Gr. III Lecomte last time out. Guided by Fair Grounds leading rider Miguel Mena, Bravazo stopped the clock in a time of 1:42.95. Noble Indy finished third.
Mena picked up the mount on Bravazo, who was originally assigned to Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens.
“It’s very exciting and I’m very thankful to Mr. Lukas because they gave me the chance on such a nice horse,” Mena said following the race. “The horse came out sharp and he was on the bridle nice. I was confident and had a lot of horse. The horse on the inside was hard to beat. I didn’t know if I had it, but thankfully I did. I have a nice horse.”
Lukas spoke volumes of Bravazo’s gritty effort.
“I didn't know it was that close,” Lukas said by phone from Hot Springs, Ark. “He (Miguel Mena) was getting into him pretty good and he drifted out. That cost us a little bit. He's a fighter. He's tough. He's got real good tactical speed. He's a horse that carries his weight well and can withstand training up to the (Gr. I Kentucky) Derby.”
Following Bravazo’s Risen Star victory, one could expect to see Mena reunited with the horse once more in his next start.
“We’ll get him back here with me and if everything checks out and goes right then I’m going to lock up Miguel Mena,” Lukas said. “I'll pack him and the horse in Styrofoam and keep them under lock and key until the next race.”
Lukas went on to explain how Mena got the mount.
“(Jockey) Gary (Stevens) had a commitment on a live horse (Streamline) in the Bayakoa so I made a phone call,” Lukas said. “I felt pretty good about getting the meet's leading rider. Hell, he knows every grain of sand on the track.”
Bravazo is now atop the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard following the Risen Star with 54 points. In addition to the 50 earned on Saturday afternoon, he acquired four with a second-place effort in the Gr. I Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last fall.
He rewarded his backers in generous payouts of $44, $15.40 and $7.80. Snapper Sinclair, who is now fourth in the Leaderboard with 22 points, returned $26.60 and $9.80. Noble Indy brought back $4.20.
Bravazo earned $240,000 following his win in the Risen Star, which brought his career bankroll to $426,528. In seven career starts, he has found the winner’s circle three times.
Rounding out the order of finish were Instilled Regard, High North, Ebben, Principe Guilherme,Givemeaminit and Supreme Aura.
The next and final of the Fair Grounds’ three local preps for the Gr. I Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve is the Gr. II $1 million Louisiana Derby (100-40-20-10).
Additional Risen Star Quotes:
Steve Asmussen trainer of Snapper Sinclair (second):
“Snapper Sinclair ran hard. It's disappointing to lose a photo in such a serious race but you end up being very proud of the horse's effort.”
Adam Beschizza jockey of Snapper Sinclair (second):
“I’m thrilled for the opportunity. He’s improved leaps and bounds since the Lecomte. He’s probably just started to grasp the fact of the dirt. He’s putting himself in the right position. Everything went to plan today and it just goes to show he’s a very versatile horse on both surfaces. There’s a big future in him. He’s going to win some nice races.”
John Velazquez jockey of Noble Indy (third):
“That’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to teach him. I wanted to give him a good schooling and see how he reacted. In the end he ran good, just a little green that’s it.”
Elliot Walden, CEO of WinStar Farm, owner of Noble Indy (third):
“I was very pleased. Always like to win, but I think Johnny made the choice to take him off horses and that might have cost us the race today, but I think in the long run it will be a good experience.”
Javier Castellano, jockey of Instilled Regard (fourth):
“Those two horses (Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair) never came back to me at all. I had the same trip as I did last time. He relaxed behind horses and I looked for that kick but he never gave it to me today. He felt good and healthy but unfortunately today wasn’t the day.”