09/07/2009 11:00PM

Dublin ends Lukas's Grade 1 drought

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Barbara D. Livingston
Dublin captures the Grade 1 Hopeful on Monday's closing day at Saratoga for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - When D. Wayne Lukas attended the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale, the colt that struck his fancy the most was a son of dual-classic winner Afleet Alex out of the Grade 1-winning mare Classy Mirage.

"He was my No. 1 pick in the fall sale," said Lukas, who convinced owners Robert Baker and William Mack to plunk down $525,000 to get the colt who would be named Dublin.

Monday, at Saratoga, Dublin showed why Lukas was so high on him as he jumped up from the maiden ranks to become a Grade 1 winner, taking the by two lengths over Aspire. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Aikenite in third. Backtalk, who had won his first three starts, including the Grade 2 Sanford here, finished fourth, beaten four lengths.

The victory was the sixth in the Hopeful for Lukas, his first since Yonaguska dead-heated for the win with City Zip in 2000. It was also the first Grade 1 stakes victory for Lukas since 2005 when Folklore won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Belmont Park.

Dublin overcame a stumble at the start under Jamie Theriot, a four-wide trip down the backside, and a drift to the outside in the stretch to get the job done. Coincidentally, the drifting was somewhat similar to what Afleet Alex did before getting up to win the 2004 Hopeful by a neck.

"That's the first time Jamie's really knuckled down and asked him to do a little something and I think it confused him a little bit," Lukas said. "We've never asked him in the morning to ever lay it down. When they do that they say 'Whoa, what's all this about, this guy up here pushing on me?' That's easily corrected."

Breaking from post 11 in the 12-horse field, Dublin stumbled two strides out of the gate but came up running. He raced four wide while about three lengths off the pace, established by Flatter Than Me and One Note Samba, who dueled through fractions of 22.10 seconds and 44.97 for the opening half-mile.

Dublin advanced four wide on the turn and came to the leaders turning for home. When Theriot went left-handed with him, Dublin began to drift out. But Dublin kept running, Theriot straightened him out, and they got the job done.

Dublin covered the seven furlongs in 1:23.52 and returned $8.20 as the favorite.

"He was a little green coming down the lane," winning rider Theriot said. "If I hit him right-handed he'd duck left a little, if I hit him left-handed he'd duck right, but he'll grow out of that."

Aspire, coming off a debut victory earlier in the meet, weaved his way through traffic to get second under Julien Leparoux.

Backtalk, meanwhile, suffered his first loss from four starts. Jockey Richard Migliore said he had to use the horse earlier than he wanted to get in the race.

"I kind of had to rush him into the race going into the turn because he wasn't really grabbing me," Migliore said. "I got in behind Dublin and followed his move, kind of came up a little flat in the lane on the wrong lead. I couldn't get him to change leads."

Lukas said he would take Dublin back to Churchill Downs, before deciding whether to run him in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont on Oct. 10 or the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.

"They've screwed up the Breeders' Cup so they're going to force us to do things I don't want to do," Lukas said. "I don't know just where we'll look right now. You got the Champagne right in front of us, the Breeders' Futurity is an option. I would really prefer that we move the Breeders' Cup to Churchill or Belmont and keep him on the dirt."