Churchill Downs has one of its final prep races before the 2022 Breeders Cup, which will be run in November at Keenland Park, as the Grade Two Lukas Classic opens the Churchill Downs Stakes Action. Kentucky Derby Winner Rich Strike looks to run one more time before he sets his eyes facing off the top of the three-year-old class in the Grade one Breeders Cup Classic runs. But, like the Travers Stakes field he faced off against, the field for the Lukas Classic won’t be easy. So here’s a look at your stakes preview for the 2022 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs.
King Fury (15-1)
The Curlin Sired Colt King Fury looks to win his first race of the season in a competitive field of six. The Kenneth G. McPeek trainee has only had two starts this season, placing third in one of his starts and then eighth in his other. But, the 2021 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes winner will have to find his pace as he had a couple of years ago if he wants to try and beat this field of many three-year-olds, including Kentucky Derby Winner Rich Strike. However, his speed figures improved from 90 to 95 in his latest ungraded Fort Larned Stakes run. Personally, id leave out King Fury in my bets as O haven’t seen anything from this horse this year or in the years past that makes me want to place a confident bet on this horse.
Art Collector (2-1)
William Mott’s Art Collector opens the program at 2-1 odds and is one of the favorites in the Grade 2 Lukas Classic. The four-year-old has raced in three races this year, only losing one, the Grade 1 Saudi Cup, where he placed 12th. The G2 Charles Town Classic Stakes winner has put up some great runs this year, mainly in his win in the Charles Town Classic Stakes, where he out up a Byer Speed Figure of 113. With Jockey Luis Saez on the back of the 2021 Woodward Winner, we can see a great run from this four-year-old and a possible win over the loaded field behind him.
Happy Saver (5-2)
Todd Pletcher’s Happy Saver looks to capture his first win of the season following his most recent finish in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga this past August. The three-year-old started his season off at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby Fest, where he ran in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes, finishing second behind Olympiad. But, the race I want to look at the most is his run in the Grad 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga, where he fell short as fellow Todd Pletcher trainee Life is Good captured the victory over Happy Saver.
However, Happy Saver’s run in the Whitney was impressive as he put up an Equibase Speedfigure of 122. So here’s what I’ll say for the Todd Pletcher trainee. If he can run as he did in the Whitney, I think Happy Saver is the best option to bet on, but if he can’t, he will be a good place option as he has placed second in all three of his starts.
Rich Strike (6-1
Kentucky Derby Winner Rich Strike looks to bounce back in the Kukas Classic following his fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga this past August. The three-year-old trained by Eric Reed has had an impressive cinderella story this year after he overtook Steve Asmussen’s Epicenter to win the Kentucky Derby at 80-1 odds. However, since his stunning Kentucky Derby finish, Strike hasn’t been able to run well against the rest of the field as he failed to place in the top five in the Belmont Stakes. Then he could not take over fellow Kentucky Derby Runners Zandon, Cyberknife, and Epicenter, in the Travers Stakes.
But now, the Kentucky Derby winner returns to the track where he made history, making it a high possibility for another Rich Strike victory at Churchill Downs. Finally, Strike sits at 6-1 in the program, making him a great option to bet on if you want that high payout as he gave in the Kentucky Derby.
Hot Rod Charlie (8-5)
2021 Pennsylvania Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie looks to capture his second win of the season following his third-place finish in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes. The Doug O’Neill trainee won his opening season race, the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 Presented By The Longines Record but could not follow it up in the Grade 1 Dubai World Cup, where he finished in second 1 and 3/4 lengths behind Bob Baffert’s Country Grammer.
But in his most recent start, the Grade 1 Whitney, he put up an Equibase Speed Figure of 122, the exact speed figure that second place Whitney Runner and Lukas Classic runner, Happy Saver, put up. However, Hot Rod Charlie opens the program at 8-5 odds, making him one of the favorites for the 2022 Lukas Classic. I will back Hot Rod Charlie in this race as he has great potential in this field and will run strong compared to some of the other runners in the Grade 2 Lukas Classic.
Chess Chief is your Lukas Classic longshot as he sits in the program last at 20-1 odds over the rest of the field. The Dallas Stewart trainee has had an interesting season this year, racing in some major stakes races but failing to place in any of them. The five-year-old, the oldest in the field, most recently ran in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on one of the final days of racing for the 2022 Saratoga Meet finishing in seventh. But he put up an Equibase Speed Figure of 105. Chess Cheif Id leave out of my bets, but if you want to play around with the longshots, he could be a good potential candidate. However, I don’t think he has what it takes to win the Lukas Classic.
So here’s a look at one of your major stakes races coming to you this weekend from Churchill Downs. Will the Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike take another win in the Lukas Classic? Possibly. But here are my final bets for the 2022 Lukas Classic Stakes.
WPS- Hot Rod Charlie
PS- Art Collector
S- Rich Strike
Trifecta- 5 2 4
Superfecta- 5 2 3 4
Best of luck to all, and be on the lookout for some of our next stakes previews as the final month before the Breeders Cup starts this Saturday!
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