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With a strong move in the stretch at Saratoga to win his first career start, Optimizer quickly earned some respect. The homebred colt from the first crop sired by turf champion English Channel won at odds of 27-1. Optimizer finished second by a ½ length in his next start, the Grade 2 With Anticipation; jockey Robby Albarado dropped his whip inside the 16th pole. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas tried him next on the Polytrack surface at Keeneland in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity and the Bluegrass Hall homebred finished third. Optimizer moved to dirt for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and finished eighth after a sluggish start.

Lukas kept the bay colt on dirt for a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on November 26 to close out his 2-year-old season. After running sixth in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn and finishing ninth in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, Optimizer turned in his best performance on dirt with a second-place finish by 3/4 of a length to heavily favored Secret Circle in the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn.

After a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby, Optimizer finished 11th following a troubled trip in the Kentucky Derby.

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