Long shot Bravazo Wins Risen Star

Bravazo, Son of Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner Awesome Again, going to Kentucky Derby

It only takes one shot in a Kentucky Derby Championship Series prep race, and a long shot can win a chance to run in the Kentucky Derby. Long shot Bravazo (21-1) pulled off the feat Saturday in the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds Race Course, dueling gamely in the stretch with super long shot and front-runner Snapper Sinclair (41-1) before narrowly prevailing by a nose.

Bravazo is the son of 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, who won 9-of-12 races before retiring following his Classic victory. Awesome Again was a late-blooming 3-year-old in 1997 who never had a chance to qualify or run in the Kentucky Derby. But he did win all three of his starts at Churchill Downs including the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Now Bravazo will have a chance to gallop in the Run for the Roses for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who was excited about Bravzo’s Risen Star win.

“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 (Kentucky) Derby.”

Lukas already has one classic hopeful in his barn in grade 1 winner Sporting Chance, who is scheduled to make his seasonal debut in the Feb. 19 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park.

D. Wayne Lukas is all smiles with Bravazo

Bravazo earned 50 qualifying points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, and he finished the 1 1/16 mile Rise Star in a solid 1:42.95. Bravao paid $44.00, $15.40 and $7.80 across the board. Runner up Snapper Sinclair returned $26.60 and $9.80 while picking up 20 Derby points. Noble Indy was two lengths further back in 3rd as the second wagering choice while race favorite Instilled Regard finished fourth.

Bravazo’s past-performance lines said others had far better credentials entering the Risen Star. He was was racing for the third time against graded company, having finished 10th in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs last November. Bravazo was also scheduled to have Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens aboard in the Risen Star. But when Stevens wasn’t as he was scheduled to rise Streamline in the Bayakoa. So just days before the race, Lukas turned to the Fair Grounds leading rider Miguel Mena, and now those two will make the unlikely appearance in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby.

Lukas sounds like he’ll stick with Mena moving forward on Bravazo.

“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.”

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