DERBY CONTENDER: Bravazo

By Jason B. (@JasonNYM on Twitter)

Bravazo is likely to be one of the longest shots on the board when post time for the May 5th Kentucky Derby approaches. Most early projections have Bravazo sitting around the 40 or 50-1 range, and I would be inclined to agree with that assessment of his chances. While Bravazo has won 2 of his 3 starts this year and displays an ideal stalking style for the Kentucky Derby he is likely just not fast or talented enough to run with the top contenders in this field. However, Bravazo does have a four time Kentucky Derby winning trainer in his corner in D. Wayne Lukas who will surely have him ready to fire his best shot.

So far in his career Bravazo has run 8 times (5 times as a 2 year old, and 3 times this year) and amassed a record of 3 wins, 1 second, and 1 third place finish from his starts. He began his career in a high priced maiden special weight at Saratoga last August where he finished a dismal 8th eighteen lengths behind the winner that day. However, Bravazo won broke his maiden a month later at Churchill Downs, the site of the Kentucky Derby, by 4 ¾ lengths. Following that effort, Bravazo ran 2nd to fellow derby hopeful Free Drop Billy in Keeneland’s Breeders Futurity, then was 3rd in the Street Sense back at Churchill before ending his 2 year old campaign with a dismal 10th place finish in the Kentucky Juvenile Cup.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has never been afraid to run his horses often, didn’t give Bravazo a long break for the winter and brought him back on January 13th in an optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park. Bravazo won that race by a neck earning a then career best 96 Bris speed figure. Following that race Bravazo shipped to the Fair Grounds for the Grade 2 Risen Star. Let go at 21-1 that day, Bravazo gamely dueled on the lead and scored a narrow nose victory to seal his spot in the starting gate on Derby Day. In the Risen Star Bravazo earned a career high 98 Brisnet speed figure. Bravazo would make his final prep in the Louisiana Derby back at the Fair Grounds but he failed to threaten and wound up 8th by 21 lengths behind race winner Noble Indy.

1M2A4592 bravazo

Bravazo training at Churchill Downs. Photo by Holly M. Smith

Bravazo who is bred and owned by the world famous Calumet Farm is a son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again and Tiz o’ Gold. He should have the stamina to go the mile and a quarter route, but he simply may not be good enough to beat the top contenders in this field. One thing Bravazo does have going in his favor is that he does have a three starts, and one win over the Churchill Downs dirt, but I don’t think it will be enough to put him on the board as they cross the wire. In his last start Bravazo was ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, but as of this point no final decision has been made on who his jockey will be for the Kentucky Derby.

While there are certainly some positives for Bravazo, given his recent effort in the Louisiana Derby I would be hesitant to include him on any tickets as he would need to show a big improvement just to hit the board in this field. Bravazo will likely be stalking off the early leader (expected to be Promises Fulfilled), but I suspect when the real running begins, around the top of the stretch, he will fade and finish in the back half of the field.

photos by Holly M. Smith (@kyholmarie on Twitter)

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