Bluegrass Hall's homebred Optimizer continued his climb through conditions on the turf with a powerful 4 1/4-length win in the $200,625 Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park Sept. 22, earning his first graded stakes score in spite of racing on his wrong lead all the way down the stretch (VIDEO).
The 3-year-old son of English Channel completed 1 1/8 miles in new course record time of 1:47.27 over firm going, much the best of nine other sophomore contenders including Cozzetti and 5-2 favorite Lucky Chappy. He has found his best stride racing on the turf of late, where all three of his career victories have been earned for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
The Kent was his second straight victory; Optimizer broke through for the first time since his 2011 maiden special weight score in an Aug. 25 optional claimer on the lawn at Saratoga Race Course. Earlier in the year Optimizer campaigned unsuccessfully on the Triple Crown trail, finishing 11th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), sixth in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), and 10th in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). In 2011 he ran eighth in the 2011 Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).