©2017 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to Hot Springs, Arkansas, Monday, where Uncontested has been tabbed as the 5-2 morning line favorite in the 52nd running of the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
Most of the horses in this race have a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® score and have often been inconsistent in their race performance. However, their Behavior Index can move some horses up in the profile ranking like favored Uncontested and, perhaps, One Liner (7-2). In addition, Cu Rahy is the best bred horse with an A profile ranking but he has yet to live up to his breeding.
Ranked seventh on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard, Uncontested comes into this race with a 2-0-0 record in three starts including a 5¼ length win in the Smarty Jones Stakes. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
UNCONTESTED got clear soon after an even start, firmly rated in the run up the backstretch, encouraged with some hand urging to expand that advantage turning for home, maintained a comfortable lead to the wire under intermittent urging.
Uncontested won with ease and his finish time of 1:36.32 is what I like to see in a young colt on the Kentucky Derby Trail. Despite Uncontested’s low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® score, his Behavior Index makes him competitive and if he runs like he did in his last race, he’ll be tough in the Southwest Stakes (G3).
Tiz Wonderful, the sire of Uncontested, was a multiple graded stakes winner that compiled a 3-1-0 record in five starts with $254,672 in career earnings.
As a two year old, Tiz Wonderful was undefeated in three starts including wins in the Iroquois Stakes (G3) and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).
Early in his racing season as a three year old, Tiz Wonderful suffered a minor tendon injury and he was taken out of contention for the Derby. After his recovery, Tiz Wonderful resumed racing and finished sixth in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and second in the More Than Ready Stakes.
Channing Hill has ridden Uncontested in all of his previous races and I look for the pair to run a good race.
A long shot I like in this race is Silver Dust (10-1) who’s stepping up in class and hasn’t raced since last November. Trainer Randy Morse brings him into Southwest after the three-month layoff with a 1-0-0 record in two starts including a 3½ length maiden win in his last race. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
SILVER DUST settled in hand, split rivals entering the stretch, shook clear and maintained a safe advantage.
It looked like Silver Dust was going to be stuck behind horses entering the stretch. But when a hole opened, Silver Dust found running room and appeared to be running with authority in the stretch.
Tapit, the sire of Silver Dust, was a multiple graded stakes winner that compiled a 3-0-0 record in six starts with $557,300 in career earnings.
As a two year old, Tapit was undefeated in two starts including a win in the Laurel Futurity (G3). Tapit was troubled by a lung infection for much of his three year old season but he did win the nine-furlong Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) in route to a ninth-place finish in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.
At stud, Tapit has been America’s leading sire for the past three years and he’s the sire of the Belmont Stakes (G1) winners Tonalist and Creator.
With a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® grade rating Silver Dust is one of the best bred colts in this race and since his layoff, he’s been training well at Oaklawn, firing several bullet works.
Corey Lanerie retains the mount and I look for Silver Dust to run a good race in his debut as a three year old and, perhaps, pull an upset at a nice price.
Hence (20-1) is another long shot that has the breeding to be a factor in this race. He comes into the Southwest with a 1-1-1 record in four starts for trainer Steve Asmussen including a maiden win in his last race. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:
HENCE stumbled start, patiently handled off the pace and the inside, swept up four wide to take over turning for home, ducked in sharply past the furlong marker to lose the advantage, was righted and battled back along the inside to prove best.
Hence, like Silver Dust, also has a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® grade rating and he has the breeding to be competitive in this race.
Street Boss, the sire of Hence, was a multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled a 7-3-1- record in 13 starts with $831,800 in earnings.
Street Boss did not race until he was a three year old compiling a 1-1-0 record in for starts. At the age of four, Street Boss was 6-2-1 in nine starts with wins in the Bing Crosby Handicap (G1), Triple Bend Invitational Handicap (G1) and the Los Angeles Handicap (G3). He ran second in the Ancient Title Stakes (G1) and third in the Sentient Flight Group Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
In the stretch of his last race, Hence appeared to be spooked and he’ll need to overcome those behavioral issues if he’s going to secure the win.
One Liner (7-2) comes into this race undefeated in two starts for trainer Todd Pletcher. He’s stepping up in class and yet to run in a route race. Here’s the video and chart call of his last race:
ONE LINER was well placed three wide tracking the early leaders, then drew closer to JERSEY STREET while being roused around the turn, took command outside into the stretch and widened while flashed the whip, then was tapped right-handed right at the wire being instructed to gallop out some.
One Liner has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® but is Behavior Index could, potentially, make him competitive.
Into Mischief, the sire of One Liner, was precocious as a two year old and he easily won his maiden debut by 2½ lengths at Santa Anita Park on October 21 2007. He went on to finish second in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3) and followed that with a win in the 8½-furlong CashCall Futurity (G1). The finish time of 1:40.82 was just a few ticks off of the record time of 1:40.74 set by Afternoon Deelites and the second fastest time of 1:40.78 set by Valiant Nature.
In his debut as a three year old in February 2008, Into Mischief finished second in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) and after an extended break, he returned to racing in October winning the Damascus Stakes by two lengths. In December, Into Mischief finished his racing season with a second-place finish in the Malibu Stakes (G1).
The stretch out in distance in the Southwest Stakes (G3) should be in the range of One Liner who’s been training well. A recent bullet work out could have him ready to run a good race.
Honorable mention goes to Lookin At Lee (8-1), Petrov (5-1) and Rowdy the Warrior (20-1) who could, potentially, be factors in the exotics.
Under the points system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine which horses will qualify to enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate, the winner of the Southwest Stakes (G3) will receive 10 points, the second-place finisher will receive 4 points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive one point.
The pace on the Derby Trail really begins to quicken next weekend on February 25 with the Risen Star Stakes (G2) as the debut race of the Championship Series, which consists of 16 races. The winner of those races will receive 50 points, the second-place finisher will receive 20 points, the third-place finisher will receive 10 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 5 points.
Halfway through this series beginning with the UAE Derby (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 25, the points will increase to 100 points for the winner, 40 points for second place, 20 points for third and 10 points for fourth place.
Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers:
2017 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Classic Empire, 32, Mark Casse, $1,493,820
2. El Areeb, 20, Cathal Lynch, $300,000
3. McCraken, 20, Ian Wilkes, $285,048
4. Gormley, 20, John Sherriffs, $260,000
5. Gunnevera, 14, Antonio Sano, $807,200
6. Practical Joke, 14, Chad Brown, $690,000
7. Uncontested, 11, Wayne Catalano, $99,300
8. Lookin At Lee, 10, Steve Asmussen, $275,600
9. Irish War Cry, 10, Graham Motion, $272,660
10. Mastery, 10, Bob Baffert, $240,000
11. Mo Town, 10, Tony Dutrow, $180,000
12. Guest Suite, 10, Neil Howard, $128,040
13. Royal Mo, 10, John Sherriffs, $90,000
14. Irap, 8, Doug O’Neill, $90,000
15. Wild Shot, 7, Rusty Arnold, II, $97,200
16. True Timber, 6, Kiaran McLaughlin, $65,000
17. No Dozing, 5, Arnaud Delacour, $89,000
18. Bonus Points, 5, Todd Pletcher, $52,500
19. Klimt, 4, Art Sherman, $380,000
20. Hot Sean, 4, Bob Baffert, $180,000
x-Not This Time, retired to stud at Taylor Made Farm.
In addition to the current top 20, Churchill Downs has partnered with the Japan Racing Association to feature the Cattleya Sho Stakes and Hayacinth Stakes as two qualifying races in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. The horse with the most points from those races will receive an invitation to compete in the 2017 Kentucky Derby.
Here’s the video of the Cattleya Sho Stakes.
Here’s the video of the Hayacinth Stakes.
2017 JAPAN ROAD TO KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Epicharis (JPN), 50, Kiyoshi Hagiwara, $450,374
2. Mont Saint Legame (JPN), 40, Koji Maki, $90,154
3. Adirato (JPN), 20, Naosuke Sugai, $154,951
4. Caucus (JPN), 16, Hideaki Fujiwara, $35,850
5. Foggy Night (JPN), 5, Noriyuki Hori, $23,801