Sporting Chance won his stakes debut, the Hopeful (G1) on closing day at Saratoga, in an exciting finish for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Lukas bought the son of Tiznow for $575,000 from Woods Edge Farm, agent, at Keeneland’s 2016 September Yearling Sale for longtime clients William Mack and Robert Baker. Breeder Hunter Valley sold the colt as a weanling at the 2015 November Breeding Stock Sale for $275,000 to Lapis Bloodstock.
The win by Sporting Chance marked Lukas’ eighth victory in the Hopeful and third with Baker and Mack. The trio also teamed to win the Hopeful with September Sale graduates Dublin in 2009 and Strong Mandate in 2013.
Sporting Chance broke his maiden by 2¼ lengths at Saratoga in July in his second start. In the Hopeful, the colt settled into second through fractions of :22.50 and half in :45.92 before taking the lead in the upper stretch. Pursued by a pair of challengers, Sporting Chance ducked out sharply several jumps from the wire, but righted himself to prevail by a neck.
“Well, this surprised me more than it did the horse,” Lukas said. “I thought he was comfortably in front and he was moving well. I think he was best in the last 50 yards where he accelerated; that’s his style. Unfortunately, he saw something. I guess Luis explained that he ducked from the whip. I have a tendency to think it might have been something else, you never know. These are 2-year-olds and he’s just in his third race.”