Optimizer Continues Climb With Kent Score
by Claire Novak
Date Posted: 9/22/2012 5:04:32 PM
Last Updated: 9/25/2012 3:21:24 PM

Optimizer streaks home to win the Kent Stakes at Delaware Park.
Photo: HoofprintsInc.com

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).

Off alertly at the break, the bay runner outfooted all but one of his contenders and took the inside spot on the rail. Excaper ranged up to claim the lead by about half a length on his outside flank, and those two dueled through early fractions of :22.71 for the quarter and :46.99 for the half. 
 
After three-quarters in 1:10.70, jockey Jon Court asked for a little more of his mount's speed, and Optimizer struck the lead as the field turned for home. With something left to give after applying steady pressure throughout, he shook off Excaper heading into the furlong grounds and drew off late under left-handed urging. Excaper held for second by 1 3/4 lengths, while Two Months Rent got up for third by a head over Star Channel.
 
Optimizer returned $8.40, $5.40, and $5.40 while Excaper paid $8.20 and $6.80 and Two Months Rent brought $15. Star Channel was followed by Twilight Eclipse, Unbroken, Lucky Chappy, Cozzetti, Miami Cat, and Corinthian's Jewel. King Kreesa scratched.
 
Bred in Kentucky, Optimizer is out of the A.P. Indy mare Indy Pick. Optimizer improved his record to 3-2-1 from 16 starts, with earnings of $428,714. 
 


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