Geothermal and jockey Robby Albarado swept to the front turning for home and gamely refused to be passed en route to a 1 1/2-length victory over favored Departing in the inaugural Lukas Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs.
The Lukas, formerly the Homecoming and renamed to honor Churchill-based Hall of Fame conditioner D. Wayne Lukas, was the first stakes win for the 6-year-old gelded son of Unbridled Energy at 12-1 odds. Owned by A. L. Luedtke, Geothermal was bred in Kentucky by his owner and Jo Ann Luedtke and is trained by Steve Margolis.
The victory improved Geothermal's record to 5-6-2 from 23 starts and increased his earnings to $307,351. Previous to the Lukas, he finished second in the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Stakes at Indiana Grand Race Course.
Geothermal was settled into sixth as the front-runners led by Ulanbator and Abraham were closely bunched heading into the first turn. Down the backstretch, Abraham opened a clear advantage, followed by Ulanbator, as Departing, the 8-5 favorite, improved to third after a half-mile was completed in :47.82.
Rounding the far turn, Departing took over as Geothermal and Smack Smack moved in tandem with a quarter mile remaining. Geothermal fought to the lead in the stretch and was chased to the wire by Departing, who was well ahead of Smack Smack in third.
Final time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:49.93.
Geothermal paid $26.60, $7.20, $3.20, with Departing worth $3.20 and $2.80 and $4.00 for Smack Smack.