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Image for Brian Zipse Brian Zipse - Updated October 14, 2022

Lukas Classic: It’s Another Tough Spot for Hot Rod Charlie

Lukas Classic Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2022 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 KING FURY 12/1
B J Hernandez Jr K McPeek
L Saez W Mott
J Velazquez T Pletcher
S Leon E Reed
T Gaffalione D O’Neill
R Gutierrez D Stewart

Lukas Classic Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($60 in total)

$5 Trifecta Part Wheel – Hot Rod Charlie and Art Collector over Rich Strike and Happy Saver over Hot Rod Charlie and Art Collector  = $20

$5 Trifecta Part Wheel – Hot Rod Charlie and Art Collector over Hot Rod Charlie and Art Collector over Rich Strike and Happy Saver = $20

$10 Exacta Box – Hot Rod Charlie and Art Collector = $20

Top Pick: Hot Rod Charlie (9/5)

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Lukas Classic Prediction Hot Rod Charlie

Rich Strike, the upset winner of the Kentucky Derby earlier this year, will face older horses for the first time in Saturday’s $500,000 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs.

The 80-1 shot who shocked the world with his rally to win the Run for the Roses will make his first start at Churchill Downs since the first Saturday in May.

In his two races following the Derby, the son of Keen Ice has finished sixth in the Belmont and fourth in the Travers.

Five older horses will line up in opposition to the Derby winner on Saturday led by Hot Rod Charlie. Trained by Doug O’Neill, the 4-year-old has earned better than $5 million so far in his career.

Third beaten only a length in last year’s Kentucky Derby, the multiple graded stakes winning son of Oxbow comes in off a third in the Grade 1 Whitney last time.

Finishing one spot ahead of him in the Whitney was the Grade 1 winner Happy Saver. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 5-year-old son of Super Saver won the Jockey Club Gold Cup back in 2020.

While he has not visited the winner’s circle in more than a year, he continues to run good races, most recently finishing runner-up to Life Is Good in Saratoga’s premier race for older horses.

Another strong contender in the 9-furlong Lukas Classic is the Bill Mott-trained Art Collector. The speedy son of Bernardini comes in off his second straight easy score in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic.

Lukas Classic Predictions and Race Analysis

Hot Rod Charlie

Since winning a Group 2 over in Dubai early this year, this classy son of Oxbow has been denied in three straight races. Having said that, he has run three good races, including a third in the Whitney after being carried out wide by the winner Life Is Good.

It could be a similar trip for him on Saturday, but Art Collector is likely a little easier to go after than Life Is Good. If he gets the good stalking trip, I do look for the Doug O’Neill runner to perform well and probably go by the pace setter in the Churchill stretch.

It’s another tough spot for him, but I like his chances to return to the winner’s circle against this very solid field. In his prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, I like him best. He is the top pick.

Happy Saver

The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Super Saver was able to get the better of Hot Rod Charlie last time in the Whitney, but was the beneficiary of saving a bunch of ground on the rail, before getting that opening shut down by the eventual winner.

It was another solid performance for the horse who has made a career of late of being a bridesmaid to plenty of top horses. In fact, he has run second in all three starts this year, and they came against the likes of Olympiad, Flightline and Life Is Good.

Once again, he should be in position at the top of the lane, but I do not expect the pair of Art Collector and Hot Rod Charlie to prove to be very difficult to get by.

Art Collector

This son of Bernardini loves to take it to his competition early with impressive early speed. It’s a recipe which has carried him five stakes victories in his last seven starts. Like last year, he is following the path of stakes wins in the Alydar at Saratoga and the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic.

He has deviated from the Grade 1 Woodward this year to avoid a clash with the early speed of Life Is Good, but is once again a major threat to win three straight stakes races. If he gets comfortable early, it could be all she wrote for his competition.

The biggest threat to his front-running ways on Saturday is likely to come from Hot Rod Charlie, who can lay close and pounce. I expect one of them to win with the early stages of the stretch run to tell the tale.

Rich Strike

The Kentucky Derby winner was in tough for the second straight race since his big victory, but did show some good signs when fourth behind Epicenter in the Grade 1 Travers last time. Unfortunately, things get no easier as he now faces a trio of older Grade 1 winners on Saturday.

The good news is that Churchill is clearly a track that he likes, so a solid effort should be in the cards for the son of Keen Ice. Still, it’s tough to beat strong older horses and that is what he has found in the Lukas Classic.

If there were pace lined up here, perhaps I would give him a better chance, but without it, I see only a minor share as the most likely outcome for the Derby winner.

King Fury

Of the obvious longshots, this well-bred son of Curlin is the most interesting of the two. He is a graded stakes winner and a two-time stakes winner at Churchill Downs. After finishing fifth against older horses in last fall’s Grade 1 Clark, we have not seen much of him as an older horse.

In fact, he has only made it to the races two times for trainer Kenny McPeek. The first was a forgettable effort on the all-weather track at Turfway. More recently he was a competitive third in a listed stakes race at Churchill Downs. It only gets tougher here, but at his best, he is a threat to hit the board. Still, a victory here would seem a bit too much to expect.

Chess Chief

Likely to be the longest shot in the Grade 2 field, this Dallas Stewart-trained son of Into Mischief has run some good races in his career which has seen him win over $900,000. Unfortunately, he has not been at his best in 2022.

A listed stakes winner in his final start of last season, he has yet to come close in five starts this year. Most recently, he finished way back in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga. A top three finish on Saturday would seem unlikely against this tough field.

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How to Watch the Lukas Classic

What Lukas Classic (Grade 2)
Location Churchill Downs
Time Saturday, October 1 — 5:26pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $500,000

$1000 Risk-Free Bet

21+ | Terms and conditions apply

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Image for Brian Zipse


Brian Zipse

227 Articles

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]

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