Skims Rail to Win Going Away
By Dick Downey
Photo by Coady Photography
The Desormeaux brothers struck in the Southwest Stakes after Kent rode Keith's trainee My Boy Jack up the rail in the stretch to win going away on a muddy track at Oaklawn Park.
California invader My Boy Jack defeated Combatant by open lengths. Sporting Chance, making his return from a long layoff, edged pacesetter Mourinho to get third.
Those four were followed across the finish line by Zing Zang, Kentucky Club, Seven Trumpets, Retirement Fund, Road to Damascus and Ezmosh.
The race opened predictably with 6-5 favorite Mourinho going to the lead under Drayden Van Dyke. He was pressed by Florida shipper Road to Damascus, who briefly led Mourinho between calls, and the pair headed into the far turn closely followed by Ezmosh after early fractions on the sticky surface in 23.46, 47.70 and 1:13.56.
At that point, My Boy Jack, who was 8 1/2 lengths back in ninth after the first half-mile, was in eighth place but only 3 3/4 lengths from the lead. Combatant was running just in front of My Boy Jack going into the turn. Into the stretch, My Boy Jack stayed on the rail while Combatant, ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr., was swung five wide. Meanwhile, Sporting Chance and Luis Saez had been third or fourth at each call, a length or two off the pace.
Heading to the furlong marker, Desormeaux and My Boy Jack gained rapidly on Mourinho, and they spurted away in the final eighth mile to win by 4 1/2 lengths in a slow time of 1:46.00. Mourinho also gave way to Combatant mid-stretch, and that one finished second. Sporting Chance, who was bothered by Combatant in the stretch, got by Mourinho by a neck in the shadow of the wire. Zing Zang was another length back in fifth at the finish, and the rest of the field was nowhere to be seen.
My Boy Jack was primarily a turf horse last year, with only his debut race on dirt. After four first or second-place grass finishes that included a win of the Zuma Beach Stakes, he ran seventh, beaten three lengths by Mendelssohn, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. He opened his 2018 campaign with a non-threatening third-place finish to McKinzie, a stable mate of Mourinho, in the Jan. 6 Sham Stakes on dirt.
Bred in Kentucky by Brereton C. Jones, My Boy Jack was purchased for only $20,000 at the Keeneland September 2016 Yearling Sale and is owned by Don't Tell My Wife Stables (Kirk Godbey and Rob Slack) and Sol Kumin's Monomoy Stable. He's by Creative Cause out of the Mineshaft mare Gold N Shaft.
The win gave My Boy Jack 10 Kentucky Derby points, and he now has a total of 12. Combatant, who finished second to Mourinho in the Smarty Jones Stakes, picked up four points to run his total to 12 as well. Two Kentucky Derby points went to Sporting Chance in the first points race. Mourinho's single point gives him 11 total.
Sent off at 8-1, My Boy Jack paid backers with $2 tickets $19.60 to win, $8.20 to place and $5.20 to show. His connections will get $300,000 of the $500,000 purse.
The Southwest Stakes marks the end of Derby prep races with 10 points to the winner. All the rest, except for two, will award either 50 or 100 points to the winner. The Jeff Ruby Steaks and the Lexington Stakes carry 20 points for the winner.
Winning Jockey Kent Desormeaux: “It was a complete turnaround effort from his last start. Today he was quite calm and let me ride him and that was the biggest difference. He didn’t waste any energy going around the race track, so he flew home. Great training job by Keith.
“It looked like a repeat of the Razorback Handicap. I was able to get him up the rail, but I have to say it was a great training job by Keith (Desormeaux, trainer). Last time, (when third in Sham Stakes) he was quiet as a church mouse in the gate, but got very aggressive early and I was just skiing around there. When I turned him loose, he just galloped home. He didn’t power home like he did today. The best part about the race is he’s going to a Derby. It may be the Arkansas Derby, but he’s Derby bound.”
Trainer Steve Asmussen, second with Combatant: Combatant ran solid. He made up the difference on Mourinho, but was second best again today."
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., second with Combatant: “He had the perfect trip. It was really fast, which worked for my horse. He ran his race. That was a tough race. I was happy with him.”
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, third with Sporting Chance: “Good effort. He got shot down in the stretch, They came in on both sides and broke our momentum. Still came back to run third. Off a six, seven month layoff, I was very pleased.”
Jockey Luis Saez, third with Sporting Chance: “A pretty nice trip. When I came to the clear I thought we were going to blow them off, but he looked like he needed a break. He was a little tired but he will be ok for the next time.”
Jockey Drayden Van Dyke, fourth with favorite Mourinho: “We didn’t get the easy lead like that we did last time. I was a bit surprised that the Pletcher horse passed me like that. To be honest, I think if the track would have been faster and not the condition it’s in, I still don’t think they would have caught him. I will blame it on the track, he was swimming through it.”
Asmussenn on Zing Zang, fifth: "Zing Zang, I was really concerned with as big as he is and as heavy as he is about him handling this track.”
Asmussnen on Retirement Fund – “I thought Retirement Fund struggled with the track. You could tell early. He broke sharp, but he never leveled off at any point."