(Bravazo / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)
From the Oaklawn Park Media Team:
Bravazo’s home the next several months will remain Oaklawn.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Tuesday morning that the millionaire Bravazo will target Oaklawn’s lucrative series of two-turn stakes races for older horses, which culminates with the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 18.
A homebred for Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm, Bravazo had been scheduled to make his 5-year-old debut in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at 1 1/8 miles Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park. Now, Lukas said, it could come the same day in Oaklawn’s $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes at a mile.
“Got to thinking about it and this is a nice four-race series here,” Lukas said. “We’re coming off a long layoff, actually coming off surgery, and I think taking this approach, getting a mile under our belt, then a mile and a sixteenth, another mile and a sixteenth before we go out to a mile and an eighth, the big one, I think logically it’s the smart thing to do. No shipping.”
Owing to surgery to remove a bone chip from a knee, Bravazo started only twice in 2019, finishing fourth in the Pegasus World Cup, then worth $9 million, last January at Gulfstream Park and eighth in his comeback race, the $600,000 Clark Stakes (G2) Nov. 29 at Churchill Downs.
Following this year’s Pegasus World Cup, Lukas had ticketed Bravazo for the inaugural $20 million Saudi Cup – the world’s richest race – Feb. 29 in Saudi Arabia and the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) March 28 in the United Arab Emirates. Now, Bravazo’s path to the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn Handicap “will definitely” go through the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 17 and the $350,000 Essex Handicap at 1 1/16 miles March 14, Lukas said. The Oaklawn Handicap, previously worth $750,000, will offer a record purse in 2020.
“During the winter, there’s no three races that have the purse structure that Oaklawn has,” said Lukas, who annually winters in Hot Springs. “That’s a credit to Oaklawn, really, to have that purse structure.”
A son of Awesome Again, Bravazo has started only once at Oaklawn, launching his busy 3-year-old campaign with an entry-level allowance victory in 2018. Bravazo then won the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds before finishing second in the Preakness at Pimlico and $1 million Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park and third in the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga and $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs. In his final 2018 start, Bravazo ran second in the Clark, then a Grade 1 event.
Bravazo has recorded three published works this season at Oaklawn, including a 5-furlong move in 1:00.40 over a fast track Tuesday morning.
“The other thing that enters into it, it gives us a horse that’s probably going to be fresh and right on his game going into the Grade 1 season in the spring,” Lukas said of opting to stay home. “If we go to Saudi and Dubai, we would have to have some downtime coming home from there, I’m sure. I’ve never been, but my colleagues tell me that those horses have to have some downtime.”
Bravazo has 3-4-3 record from 18 lifetime starts and earnings of $2,009,528.
It’s Raining Again
Oaklawn stakes winner Raintree Starlet recorded her second local work of the season Monday morning for trainer Brian Williamson, covering 5 furlongs over a fast track in 1:00.80. Unraced since early August, Raintree Starlet is a three-time winner, including an allowance event and the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters last year at Oaklawn.
“Nothing was wrong with her,” Williamson said. “We just gave her a little freshening and she’s back. She’s pretty close to being fit and should be ready when the meet opens.”
Williamson said Raintree Starlet will be nominated to the $125,000 American Beauty Stakes for older female sprinters Feb. 1, with an allowance race early next month another possibility for her comeback spot.
Raintree Starlet recorded a 5-furlong breeze New Year’s Eve at Oaklawn, had two published works earlier in December at Churchill Downs and several more in November at Hawthorne. Co-owned by Williamson’s mother-in-law, Nancy Vanier, Raintree Starlet has a 3-0-2 record from nine lifetime starts and earnings of $137,271.
Williamson said multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Streamline, who was retired roughly a year ago, is in foal to champion and 2017 Arkansas Derby winner Classic Empire. Williamson said he believes Streamline, also campaigned by Vanier, will be bred back to millionaire Get Stormy, the sire of Raintree Starlet.
(Rider Calvin Borel is scheduled to team up with brother Cecil during the upcoming meet at Oaklawn Park — which begins Jan. 24 / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
Borel, Borel & Borel
After a brief retirement late last year, Cecil Borel said late last month that he will be the trainer of record during the 2020 Oaklawn meeting that begins Jan. 24.
“I just went home and took care of business,” Borel, who has a history of heart problems, said with a laugh New Year’s Eve. “I had to get my blood pressure checked. Those owners, you know how they are. They make your blood pressure go up. I had to go take care of my blood pressure.”
Borel, the older brother of Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel, came out of a 4 ½-year retirement at the 2019 Oaklawn meeting. K J’s Nobility, a starter-allowance winner last April, represented Borel’s first victory since Aug. 2, 2014, at Ellis Park.
K J’s Nobility ran second in the inaugural $200,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship in May at Oaklawn and was an allowance winner in August at Ellis Park. After Flatoutandfoxy ran third in a claiming race Sept. 29 at Churchill Downs, Borel turned over his small string to his assistant, Renay Borel, Calvin Borel’s wife. Flatoutandfoxy – ridden by Calvin Borel – represented Renay Borel’s first career winner Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.
Cecil Borel originally retired to care for his ailing wife, Debbie, a former Oaklawn racing official who died Jan. 1, 2015. His major client is Carson McCord, 20, of Hot Springs, who owns K J’s Nobility and Flatoutandfoxy.
Calvin Borel was Oaklawn’s leading rider in 1995 and 2001 and has 963 career victories in Hot Springs, including 11 last year. Cecil Borel has 106 career victories at Oaklawn.
(Trainer Mike Maker / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)
Horses for trainers Phil D’Amato, Mike Maker and David Fawkes are on the grounds. The Southern California-based D’Amato has a string in Hot Springs for the first time this year. … Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Amy’s Challenge worked 5 furlongs over a fast track in 1:00 Tuesday morning in advance of the $125,000 American Beauty Stakes for older fillies and mares Feb. 1, her scheduled 5-year-old debut. Trained by Mac Robertson, Amy’s Challenge won the 2019 American Beauty. … Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Hoonani Road moved closer to his 5-year-old debut by working 5 furlongs in 1:01.40 Tuesday morning under regular rider Channing Hill. Hoonani Road is unbeaten in seven Oaklawn starts, all against Arkansas-breds, including the $100,000 Rainbow Stakes in 2018 and the $100,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes and inaugural $200,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship Stakes in 2019. Hoonani Road races for trainer Wayne Catalano and owner Jerry Caroom of Hot Springs. … Whoa Nellie, under Joe Rocco Jr., worked 5 furlongs in 1:00 Monday morning for trainer Larry Jones, who is pointing the 4-year daughter of Orb for the $100,000 Pippin Stakes for older fillies and mares Jan. 25. Whoa Nellie, who breezed over a fast track, has never run in a stakes race. … Agent Scott Hare said that he will represent Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Stewart Elliott and Declan Cannon at the 2020 meeting that begins Jan. 24. Elliott, after relocating to the Midwest, was Oaklawn’s sixth-leading rider last year with 24 victories. Cannon, returning after a two-year absence, rode 14 winners in his Oaklawn debut in 2017. … Nominations for Oaklawn’s first three stakes races – $150,000 Smarty Jones for 3-year-olds, Pippin and $100,000 Fifth Season for older horses close Friday. All three races are 1 mile.