Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas' two Preakness candidates, Bravazo and Sporting Chance schooled in the paddock Wednesdaymorning and exercised on the muddy track at Pimlico.
Calumet Farm's Bravazo and Robert Baker and William Mack's Sporting Chance, will add to Lukas' record of Preakness starters, which stands at 41. This will be Lukas' 28th Preakness, a race he has won six times. He is tied with Bob Baffert for second on the career wins list, one behind the 19th century standout Robert Wyndham Walden.
Lukas said he stepped away from the Preakness tradition of saddling the horses on the turf course in the 1980s. Bravazo, sixth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Sporting Chance, fourth in the Pat Day Mile (G3) in their most recent starts, paid a visit to Pimlico's indoor paddock.
When he arrived from Kentucky with the horses Monday, Lukas said they would have light morning exercise because they were running back in two weeks. On Wednesday, they jogged one lap of the track and galloped clockwise – the reverse of the way races are run – a second lap.
“We didn't do a lot with that track the way it was,” he said. “If we're going to do something serious on that racetrack we've got to get paid for it.”
Sporting Chance, a son of Hall of Famer Tiznow, was purchased for $575,000 as a yearling and was a formidable runner as a 2-year-old, winning the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga. Surgery to remove a knee chip ended his 2017 season. The Preakness will be his fifth race, all graded stakes, this season. In the Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard, he had a troubled trip under Luis Contreras and was 12 lengths back midway through the race. Contreras moves to Bravazo, a Calumet homebred, while Luis Saez takes over on Sporting Chance.
“I think he's going to have to show speed, like everybody,” Lukas said of Sporting Chance. “In an eight-horse field you're just going to have to turn the jock loose and see. But he's got tactical speed. Let's see how he handles it. I think he likes the mud.”
Sporting Chance did win the Hopeful on a track rated “good” and was third in the mud in the Southwest (G3).
Lukas said again Wednesday that Justify stands over the Preakness field and that it is his race to lose. He said that Bravazo has been most effective when he uses his speed.
“His best race was the Risen Star (G2), where he went right on the pace. Not everybody can be just off the pace. Something has got to give. Everybody will tell you they'd like to be there, but the horses will have the facts,” Lukas said. “I think we're probably as quick as most of the them, so we'll have to use a little judgment on the rider part.”
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