02/26/2013 2:18PM

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.