He has speed, an inside post, and as of Friday afternoon there’s a 90 percent chance of rain in the forecast. On paper, things could go swimmingly for Uncontested in the $500,000 Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
However, to claim an additional 10 Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points in Monday’s 1 1/16-mile prep Uncontested will have to outrun 12 other three-year-olds after facing only seven in last month’s $150,000 Smarty Jones.
The Smarty Jones wound up being an emphatic performance for the Wayne Catalano-trained son of Tiz Wonderful, who grabbed the early lead, went unchallenged, and opened up to win by 5 1/4 lengths over a sloppy track. It was the second win in three starts for the colt, who won his debut at Keeneland by six lengths but faded to fourth behind McCraken in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in November.
Uncontested drew post 3 in the Southwest, and the goal for rival horsemen will be to not allow, if possible, a repeat of the Smarty Jones. Cool Arrow, hero of the Springboard Mile at Remington Park in December, has early foot and drew post 1, but other potential speed types drew the outer three posts. The most interesting of these is the Todd Pletcher-trained One Liner, who has won both of his starts but at a distance no farther than six furlongs.
Looking to gain ground on Uncontested from the Smarty Jones are Petrov, Rowdy the Warrior, and Warrior’s Club, who filled in the second through fourth slots, respectively. Petrov is the least exposed of the trio, and was more than four lengths clear of Rowdy the Warrior in what was a solid try in just his third lifetime start.
Lookin At Lee won the Ellis Park Juvenile and placed in the Iroquois (G3) and Breeders’ Futurity (G1) prior to running a distant fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last year. He’s one of two in the field trained by Steve Asmussen, the other being the Calumet Farm homebred Hence, who broke his maiden in eventful fashion on the Smarty Jones undercard. Also stepping up from the maiden ranks is Silver Dust, a Churchill graduate by Tapit.
The Southwest is a prelude to the Rebel (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1) and is the final race in the “Kentucky Derby Prep” season. Fifty-point preps begin next week with the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds.