Lukas Classic (Grade 2)- $500.000 Purse
CD- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
September 30, 2023
The field may not be large for the Lukas Classic, but this Grade 2 from CD will provide us some pretty big names, including both Individuation and Crack Dab. Altogether, there are only six horses going to post, but this has never been a race to draw a large field even with it having appealing conditions. The purse has not always been high but was $400.000 for each of the last two years, and the $500.000 that we will see in 2023 is a record for the stake. It runs for the tenth time, having debuted in 2013 and being held every year other than the infamous 2020 since. Champion In Action was the winner last year, for Night Rider Stables, and while he is still active and being productive, he has not won a race since then. Eclipse My Knowledge is a two-time winner, doing so in both 2019 and 2021 for Nakamura Stables. Neither are here this year, so let’s take a look at who could be the name added to to the winner’s list.
#1- Individuation (Mb Stables, ridden by U Rispoli)- This gelding just continues to roll right along for his career, and it may be hard to believe that this will be “just” the 20th start for him. You don’t need me to tell you that he has done quite a bit over his lifetime, with career earnings now over $7,600.000 thanks to winning the Pacific Classic in his last start. After that race, we know that he is still on great form, and next month, he will be a force in the BC Classic again. One thing he has never done is win at CD, as he has been second in both prior starts, including the 2022 KYD. There are a couple in here who will make him earn it, but without question he is the favorite in this field.
#2- Mohegan Smoke (Asgar, ridden by F S Valdez)- In March, he was claimed for just $3.000 from TUP, and at the time his career was not going anywhere. Asgar would move him off the turf and enter him into a starter allowance that he won, and then two races later, he won another starter allowance. Two months ago, he ran third in the SD Handicap, with a scorching 101 SRF in the Grade 2, and now he’s going to race against Individuation. Off of that result, where he defeated Gigabyte in the process, this is a good test for him, but the trainer may have preferred not seeing the reigning BC Classic winner here.
#3- Seydoux II (Arindel, ridden by M Murrill)- Last month, he handled the bullring at CT brilliantly by capturing the Grade 2 CT Classic, which was his third win in four races. The other victories were in optional claimers. Ever since Arindel claimed him for $50.000 a little more than a year ago, Seydoux II has been very productive, getting some portion of the purse and all of that culminated into what happened last month. Now, we will have to ask, is that the pinnacle of this career, or just a steppingstone to even more big wins? He had an excellent work at AQU before coming here, so I believe there are more big wins to come, even if it is not here.
#4- Dorian Gray (Night Rider Stables, ridden by V Espinoza)- The trainer won the Lukas Classic last year, but as of right now, Dorian Gray needs to do a little more to be considered a champion in action. He’s on the right track, though, in his three races since being claimed for $15.000 in March and comes here off a six length win in the slop against three others in the $65.000 Benny The Bull, for FL-Breds. Sorry, Benny, but this is a massive step up from that. A definite underdog here.
#5- Ginger Clean (The Sidley Stud, ridden by D Cohen)- This will be the 44th start for the six-year-old gelding, and he has not had a letup this year after qualifying for the BC Sprint in 2022. Overall, he has won four of nine, while hitting the board in seven of those races over 2023, with wins in two of his last three. Most recently, he took the top spot in the Grade 3 Iselin BC Stakes with a strong come from behind performance. Two starts before that, he won the Grade 3 Salvator Mile at MTH with a similar tactic, so even the great Individuation will be needing to look back to see where Ginger Clean is for the stretch run.
#6- Crack Dab (Gdp Inc., ridden by J Loveberry)- Typically, if Crack Dab was going to be in a six-horse field, you would expect for him to at least have the strongest resume heading into the race. Instead, he’s just going to be the one that will keep Individuation honest. This now seven-year-old gelding has had better days, but that’s a credit to his past rather than being a knock on the present. In his last three races, he has won the Grade 1 Gold Cup, where he defeated Individuation and Lets Celebrate, and then in August, he was second in the Whitney, missing the photo to Lets Celebrate, but he did beat Individuation there as well. Maybe we should be saying that Individuation is looking up at him here, instead of vice versa.