02/26/2013 3:18PM

Oaklawn Park: Louisiana Derby likely next for Oxbow

Alexander Barkoff/Hodges Photography
Oxbow, shown en route to his victory in the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds, has 16 Kentucky Derby qualifying points and is sixth on the list.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.– Oxbow could have two more starts before the Kentucky Derby depending how many qualifiying points it apears he will need, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Tuesday. One possible approach, he said, is to look at the Louisiana Derby on March 30 and the Arkansas Derby on April 13. Both races offer 100 points to the winner on the new system governing Kentucky Derby preference if the May 4 race is oversubscribed.

Oxbow has 16 points to rank sixth on the Derby leader board, which is topped by Ive Struck a Nerve, who has 51 points. Ive Struck a Nerve won the Grade 2 Risen Star last Saturday at Fair Grounds, a race in which Oxbow finished fourth, beaten a half-length, one start after his 11-length romp in the track’s Grade 3 $200,000 Lecomte. “The points may force us to run twice more, but I don’t want to,” Lukas said. “If we didn’t have the points system, I’d look at one race [for Oxbow]. I almost have to consider two more.

“We’ve got all kinds of options, possibly the Louisiana Derby and Arkansas Derby. It will depend on how the horse is doing, how the spacing and timing works for him.”

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Lukas said he also will be having further discussions with Brad Kelley, who races Oxbow under the banner of Calumet Farm.

“I don’t know yet what we’re going to do,” Lukas said Tuesday. “We’ll be getting together with Mr. Kelley.”

Oxbow is based at Oaklawn. He traveled to Fair Grounds for the Risen Star, and after a five-wide run in the first turn moved to the fore on the second turn and was in front by a length in the stretch. He was overtaken nearing the wire.

“He’s good,” Lukas said of Oxbow. “He handled it better than I did.”

The Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds and the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn will both be run over a mile and an eighth. Oxbow is a son of 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again.

On the Risen Star undercard, Kelley and Lukas won the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap with Optimizer. Lukas said the horse could return to New Orleans next month for the Grade 2, $400,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial on March 30, or await a the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 4.

Sam More than 1 year ago
The Racing Commission should ban racing two yr. olds. These puppies bones are still developing and racing them a that early age is what's causing all these injuries.'But that will never happen. Why? MONEY. Owners pay too much money for these youngsters and they want their investments back as soon as possible. Injuries be damned. There are exceptions, I know. Bodemeister and Bernidini come to mind. But it would help.
george cernansky More than 1 year ago
He needs to take Court off this horse and put Nakatani on. This will make him a legitimate threat for the Derby.
Sam More than 1 year ago
How about Gary Stevens??
Sam More than 1 year ago
But I'd rather see Gary on Dynamic Sky.
realist More than 1 year ago
Why would he take Court off..... Jon won on Optimizer a few races eariler.... should he take him off him? Learn something about riding before you make asinine comments.... What did you expect Court to do??? Barrel into all the horses on the inside of him to get better position....... Stevens???? please.....
scott More than 1 year ago
Does Lukas know there are preps this weekend? Run him back Mr. Old School. There is a reason why Lukas had a recent streak of a couple Years without winning a stake. Any horse that can win out of this barn i.e. Optimizer, deserves our utmost respect.
Neil More than 1 year ago
The argument isn't necessarily that he runs his horses too often, it's the fact that they clearly aren't good enough and he keeps throwing them in with the big boys. (Not saying that Oxbow isn't good enough, yet, it's too early to tell). CLEARLY Optimizer was not the caliber horse on dirt that could compete with the best of his class during the triple crown, but ol' D Wayne sure thought he was. The guy seems to think the show can't go on without him. He will have a Derby runner, whether he has to toss him in the Derby Trial after running already 3 times in 5 weeks. Please, retire already.
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
Optimizer ran in dirt races last year for the same reason Dullahan ran in dirt races. That's what the owner wanted! There are some owners like the Mosses, for instance, who let the trainers make the decisions. They are the exception, not the rule. If you have invested big money in this sport - especially if you are new to the sport - then you want to run in the Triple Crown races. This year Optimizer is being allowed to do what he wanted to do all along - run on grass.
Mark Hoeft More than 1 year ago
All you people complain about how Lukas runs his horse his horses into the ground when Todd Pletcher is ultra conservative and half of his will get injured before the Derby. Lukas wants to make the Derby. Racing has changed for the worse. 20 years ago, horses ran 8 to 10 preps before the Derby. Now 6 races is too many. It's a joke. Optimizer might have been overdone last year (matter of opinion) but the horse is becoming a star this year. He's no Pletcher. Run him 5 times then send him off to stud. I applaud D. Wayne. Keep it old school and run the horse. They are young and can handle it.
Jd Staton More than 1 year ago
it has nothing to do with the new points system. what ever finishing spot from hear on out that the old system would get a horse in the same spot will get a horse in with points. i wouldnt be surprized to see horses get in the derby with 30 points. these fools act like its going take 100 points to get in wtf
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Mr Lucas mentions that the points system may FORCE us to run him twice. Really Mr Lucas, do you really say force us to run. If your horse doesn't win next out , you will force him to race again for points just to try to make the Derby. What about the Preakness shortly after the Derby? How about the Belmont , Haskell ? What about the Travers , your always there ....
Eric Gardner More than 1 year ago
This is your Derby winner, show some respect!
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
Everybody always complains that horses don't run often enough - now we're complaining that Wayne Lucas runs them too often. It obviously didn't hurt Optimizer - he's one of the few horses from last year who is still racing and winning. I love Oxbow - by Awesome Again out of a full sister to Tiznow. No questions about his pedigree.
pennyandy More than 1 year ago
would like to see Gary Stephens on a contender for TC; would be nice to see him come out of retirement and win a TC race- It sure was an exciting Risen Star,its not often that a 135-1 dusts Baffert, Pletcher and Lucas! I still think it would be a surprise if any of the first five finishers of this race finish in the money in Kentucky Derby.
Kimberly Langston More than 1 year ago
4 horses within a 1/2 length of each other...that isn't exactly a dusting.