UNCONTESTED FAVORED AGAINST 12 IN MONDAY’S SOUTHWEST
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017) – Uncontested can become the second horse to sweep Oaklawn’s first two major Kentucky Derby preps in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Monday.
Probable post time for the 1 1/16-mile Southwest, the ninth of 10 races, is 5:09 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 1:05 p.m.
Uncontested, who races for Harry Rosenblum and Robert LaPenta, exits a front-running 5 ¼-length victory in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 16, Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby preps. The son of Tiz Wonderful ran the mile over a sloppy, sealed surface in 1:36.32 – fastest time since the Smarty Jones was inaugurated in 2008 – and set a record for margin of victory.
“It’s always tougher,” trainer Wayne Catalano said. “You always like to make the next step – a forward step – get a little better. They’re only going to get tougher each race. The horse is going in great. That’s all we can ask for.”
Catalano’s son-in-law, Channing Hill, is named on Uncontested, who is scheduled to break from post 3 under top weight of 122 pounds. Catalano called the post, “perfect.”
“Got to be happy with that, right?” Catalano said.
Also entered in the Southwest from the rail out: Cool Arrow, Brian Hernandez Jr. to ride, 119 pounds, 12-1 in the program; Silver Dust, Corey Lanerie, 115, 10-1; Lookin At Lee, Ricardo Santana Jr., 117, 8-1; Rowdy the Warrior, Luis Quinonez, 115, 20-1; Cu Rahy, Glenn Corbett, 115, 50-1; Warrior’s Club, Chris Landeros, 117, 12-1; Petrov, Jose Ortiz, 5-1, 115; Dilettante, Florent Geroux, 115, 15-1; Hence, Ramon Vazquez, 115, 20-1; One Liner, John Velazquez, 115, 7-2; P C Cowboy, Carlos Marquez Jr., 115, 30-1; and Chief Know It All, Joe Rocco Jr., 117, 12-1.
Cool Arrow will be scratched to remain at Fair Grounds to run in the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) Feb. 25, according to the Oaklawn racing department.
Also returning from the Smarty Jones are Petrov, Rowdy the Warrior, Warrior’s Club and Cu Rahy, the 2-3-4-5 finishers, respectively.
Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, Petrov’s trainer/co-owner, saddled Far Right to win the Smarty Jones and Southwest in 2015.
Moquett said he believes Monday’s race could unfold differently than the Smarty Jones, when Petrov was in chase mode because Uncontested was on an uncontested lead.
“The only reason the pace had anything to do with it the last time was because we were going the short stretch of a mile and it was a sloppy track,” said Moquett, who originally trained Uncontested. “I knew there was going to a superior, classy horse out there without anybody doing anything. So we had to be in the unsavory position of chasing, which is the worst thing that you can do. This time, there should be a pace to where everybody gets a shot. If somebody wants to commit themselves to go the lead, they can do that.”
One Liner, unbeaten in two career starts, will be making his two-turn debut in the Southwest for trainer Todd Pletcher. He is coming off a 2 ½-length first-level allowance/optional claiming victory Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park. The Into Mischief colt has raced just off the pace in both career starts under Velazquez, a member of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
“I don’t mind it,” Velazquez said of his outside draw Monday. “He’s quick enough that he’s going to be in the first three or four going into the first turn. I don’t think it’s going to hurt him.”
Stretch-running Lookin At Lee hasn’t started since finishing fourth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. He had been based this winter at Fair Grounds, but Asmussen, Oaklawn’s seven-time training champion, has another promising 3-year-old, Untrapped, ticketed for $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) there Feb. 25.
Lookin At Lee worked a half-mile in :50.20 Monday after arriving earlier this month at Oaklawn.
The Southwest offers 17 points (10-4-2-1) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the $2 million Kentucky Derby (G1) May 6 at Churchill Downs.
Oaklawn’s series of Kentucky Derby preps continues with the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18 and $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15.