News and STORIES
Bravazo Team Aims For Oaklawn Series
Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Wednesday January 08, 2020
Bravazo, the runner-up in the 2018 Preakness Stakes (G1), is preparing for his first start of 2020 after changing course. He breezed five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 7.
According to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas on Tuesday, Bravazo will opt out of some races he was expected to run in, including the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes Presented by Runhappy (G1) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 25, as well as other races in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
Instead, he will aim for a stakes campaign at Oaklawn this winter. The 5-year-old son of Awesome Again is owned by Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm and stables at Oaklawn.
"In looking at the whole program and everything, rather than take on those heavyweight races right off the bat, I just think it would be better to go through this series, right here in his own stall, our own backyard, and then look for grade 1 races in the spring," Lukas said. "If we go overseas, we were going to miss some of those spring races for sure. So I think it just makes sense for us to manage him in that way, and Mr. Kelley was in agreement."
Bravazo's First Run of 2020
Oaklawn has four major stakes races for older male runners, and they will kick off with the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 25 at a mile. That race is now what Lukas expects to be Bravazo's first run of 2020.
The series will then proceed with the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 17 and the $350,000 Essex Handicap March 14. Both of those will run at 1 1/16 miles, and the series will close with the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at 1 1/8 miles April 18.
Bravazo was not among the original 12 invitees for the Pegasus, but he was a reserve invitee. Positioned third in line start, it looked probable since several runners ahead of him are likely to decline invitations.
Now that Bravazo will decline as well, the field opens up once again. The chances are improved for the fourth and fifth reserves, who are Diamond Oops and True Timber, respectively.
Both DIamond Oops and True TImber have run at shorter distances than the 1 1/8 miles of the Pegasus. Diamond Oops scored the Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) at seven furlongs at Gulfstream Dec. 21, and True Timber finished third in the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) Dec. 7.
The expected favorite of the Pegasus is Omaha Beach, and he will be competing at the same distance over which he won last year's Arkansas Derby (G1).
According to Lukas, the new plan was a conservative choice that he made while taking a long-range view. The current tension within the region in the Middle East is not what led to Lukas opting for the Oaklawn series rather than pursue the Feb. 29 Saudi Cup or the March 28 Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1).
Bravazo had to sit out of much of 2019 after undergoing surgery to remove a chip in his left knee. After coming back, he ran eighth, being beaten by 10 1/2 lengths in the Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (G1) Nov. 29 at Churchill Downs. Prior to that race, Bravazo finished in fourth in the slop behind City of Light in the 2019 Pegasus.
Bravazo is 3-4-3 from 18 starts with earnings of $2,009,580. He has run in 10 consecutive grade 1 races, starting with the 2018 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). He finished sixth in that race.
He also took the runner-up spot behind Justify in the 2018 Preakness, and he finished on the board that same year in the Betfair.com Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1), the Runhappy Travers Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1), the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1), and the Clark.
Bravazo's last victory came in the Risen Star Stakes presented by Lamarque Ford (G2) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in February 2018.