It was deja vu in Monday's Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, as Kent Desormeaux rode the rails on a muddy track to an upset victory aboard Don't Tell My Wife Stables and Monomoy Stables My Boy Jack in the $500,000 Kentucky Derby prep for 3-year-olds. Corey Lanerie employed identical tactics a half-hour earlier while winning the $500,000 Razorback Handicap with Hawaakom.
My Boy Jack, a 3-year-old colt by Creative Cause bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones and trained by Keith Desormeaux, drew off in deep stretch to win by 4 1/2 lengths at odds of 8-1. Combatant finished second, with G1 Hopeful winner Sporting Chance third in his 2018 debut and 6-5 favorite Mourinho, winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes for Bob Baffert at Oaklawn in January, fourth in the field of 10 3-year-olds.
Time for 1 1/16 miles on a muddy track was 1:46.00. My Boy Jack, a $20,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale from Legacy Bloodstock, earned $300,000 and 10 qualifying Kentucky Derby points for the victory.
Breaking from the inside post position, My Boy Jack settled well of the early pace as Mourinho and Todd Pletcher-trained Road to Damascus battled early, the opening fractions going in :23.46 and :47.70. After six furlongs in 1:13.56, Mourinho and jockey Drayden Van Dyke edged to the lead and reached the top of the stretch in command.
Desormeaux, meanwhile, who had one horse beaten early, gobbled up ground while staying glued to the rail on the turn for home, then shot through a gap to challenge Mourinho. It appeared as though Van Dyke tried to close the opening, but Desormeaux already had the jump on the frontrunner, surging to the lead and drawing off. Combatant, who also was well back early, finished strongly and lugged in slightly, causing Sporting Chance to lose momentum. Stewards posted the inquiry sign to examine the stretch run but allowed the original order of finish to stand.
“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,” Kent Desormeaux said of his brother. “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.”
Van Dyke said Mourinho didn't handle the track, which Desormeaux had described as similar to peanut butter.
“We didn't get the easy lead like that we did last time,” said Van Dyke. “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.”
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas was pleased with the effort of Sporting Chance, who has been away since his Sept. 4 victory in the Hopeful.
“Good effort,” said Lukas. “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.”
The win was the second in eight starts for My Boy Jack, who broke his maiden on turf in the Zuma Beach Stakes at Santa Anita in October. He finished seventh in the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, then made his 2018 debut back on the main track (his career bow was his only previous dirt race) in the G3 Sham Stakes, finishing third behind the promising Baffert runner McKinzie.
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