Photo: Coady Photography
Multiple graded stakes winner Honorable Duty “couldn’t look any better,” said his trainer, Brendan Walsh, as the classy 6-year-old gelding continues to train to defend his crown in the Grade 3, $200,000 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs.
“He’s been doing great all summer,” Walsh said. “He ran so well in this race last year so it is a great spot to get him ready for Fair Grounds this winter.”
Honorable Duty, the son Distorted Humor, charged home to a 4 ¾-length win in the 2017 Lukas Classic before tailing off form at the end of the year with a last-place finish in the Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. He was also pulled up on the far turn of the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs.
“I still think he didn’t like the muddy surface over at Keeneland for the Fayette,” Walsh said. “He was doing just fine coming into the race but he just didn’t handle the track. Then, in the Clark, I’m not too sure what happened. The good news is he bounced back fine after a little time away and is doing great.”
Honorable Duty began his 2018 campaign with a five-length romp in a conditional allowance race on May 20 and a second-place effort behind Pavel in the June 16 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs.
“We did what we did last year and gave him the summer off after the Stephen Foster,” Walsh said. “I had him pop out of the gate Friday for a very nice work (four furlongs in :49). He’s ready. We just have to get lucky.”
The probable favorite for the Lukas Classic is one of the nation’s top sprinters Mind Your Biscuits, who has multiple Grade I victories and earnings topping $4.15 million. The colt is prepping in the 1 1/8-mile race for a start in the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs.
Walsh has not ruled out the possibility of Honorable Duty making a start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but said the eight-time winner would have to “run off the screen” for him to consider entering the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup.
Nominations to the Lukas Classic closed Saturday.