Keith Desormeaux isn't just dreaming about a second consecutive victory in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes, the Southern California-based trainer sent Sueno to Oaklawn in search of his second black-type triumph, and more Kentucky Derby qualifying points, in Monday's Grade 3 race.
Desormeaux won last year's Southwest with My Boy Jack, who was exiting a third-place finish in the $100,000 Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. Sueno – Spanish for “dream” – has four points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard after finishing second in the Sham Jan. 5 at Santa Anita.
“Honestly, just the way it worked out,” said Desormeaux, who will also send out Sonneteer in the $500,000 Razorback Monday. “It seemed like good timing for us. I didn't want to run him back after the Sham in four weeks in the Bob Lewis, which is the next race at Santa Anita in their series. I'd love to set him up for the Santa Anita Derby, so as you can see we have big aspirations for him. If you're thinking at that level with these horses, in my mind at least, shipping is good for them, running on a different surface is good for them, just to give them experience and tighten them up a bit. My goal off of this race is to come back in the Santa Anita Derby. Things can change, but that's the plan.”
The $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) is April 6 at Santa Anita, its final major prep for the Kentucky Derby.
Sueno is from the first crop of the regally bred Atreides (Medaglia d'Oro out of multiple Grade 1 winner Dream Rush), who won 4 of 5 career starts in 2014 before being retired because of a tendon injury.
Sueno ran for a claiming tag in his first two career starts (both sprints) last August at Del Mar and won the $75,900 Gold Rush Stakes at a mile Dec. 1 at Golden Gate in his third and final race of 2018. He was beaten a length in the 1-mile Sham, which was his 3-year-old debut.
“Obviously, my judge of talent was suspect in the fact that I ran this horse for ($62,500) first time out,” Desormeaux said. “Part of that is because he is by a kind of an under-the-radar first-year sire. Not a big price as a yearling. The horse is totally built and has that mentality for distance, so he was not showing his cards early in the summer. That's why I got away running him like I did.”
Sueno, who broke his maiden for an $80,000 claiming price Aug. 31, is the co-7-2 second choice in the program for the Southwest. The 1 1/16-mile race offers 17 points (10-4-2-1) to the top two finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. Cutting Humor is the 3-1 program favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Sueno is owned by Bonnie and Tommy Hamilton's Silverton Hill Farm, which campaigned Great Notion, a nine-length winner of the 2003 Southwest. Desormeux said Sueno, a $61,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, was among the first two horses he received from Silverton Hill last spring.
Following the Southwest, My Boy Jack won the $200,000 Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland and finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby.
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