Owned by a partnership that includes pro football legends Paul Hornung and Willie Davis, Titletown Five will make his 2013 debut in Saturday's six-furlong Gazebo Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Titletown Five has been working his way back from surgery to remove a bone chip in his knee.
It could be argued that the son of Tiznow was flattered when Orb and Violence finished one-two in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes. All three were part of a blanket finish in a maiden race at Saratoga last summer, with Titletown Five second by just a neck and Orb was a length back in third.
Titletown Five went on to his own impressive maiden-breaker at Churchill Downs last November before going on the shelf with the bone chip.
“We just got out-bobbed by that horse at Saratoga,” said Lukas. “Then you look and see Orb was right behind us, you can see he’s a good horse. We need to get started with him and pick up some points.”
Surface Change for Channel Isle?
Lukas said he might switch surfaces with Channel Isle, a distant fourth in the 1 1/16-mile, Grade II Southwest over a sloppy track.
A son of turf champion English Channel, Lukas said Channel Isle reminds him of Optimizer, who's been successful since being put on grass. Optimizer was a strong second on dirt in last year’s Rebel Stakes before he was ninth in the Grade I Arkansas Derby, eleventh in the Kentucky Derby, sixth in the Preakness and tenth in the Belmont Stakes. Both horses are running for Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm.
“They are very similar horses, so I think we might try the Spiral,” said Lukas. “He’s got that good turf pedigree, and with the way they’re supposed to adapt to the ‘poly’, we figure we can fool around with it and see what we get. I can tell you this for sure, his next race has to be at least a mile-and-an-eighth. He wants more ground.”
One option for Channel Isle could involve a trip to Dubai. He' also nominated to the 1 3/16-mile, Group 2 UAE Derby set for March 30, one week after the Spiral.
Edited Oaklawn release with additional content by Dick Downey