Making a bold five-wide move on the far turn under jockey Terry Thompson, Michael Pressley and Steed Jackson's Super Steed – a 62-1 longshot trained by Larry Jones – upset Monday's $500,000, Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. Super Steed defeated West Coast invader Sueno by three-quarters of a length, with Long Range Toddy – one of five starters in the race for trainer Steve Asmussen – 1 1/4 lengths back in third, with Six Shooter fourth in the field of 11 3-year-olds. Bankit, Boldor, 2-1 favorite Cutting Humor, Jersey Agenda, Ninth Street, Olympic Runner and Gray Attempt completed the order of finish.
Super Steed, owned by Steed Jackson and Michael Pressley, the latter of whom bred the colt, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.05 and paid $126 on a $2 wager. A points race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky-bred by Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver earned 10 points, with 4, 2 and 1 points going to the second through fourth-place finishers. (Click here for the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard.)
Super Steed settled near the back of the back and encountered some traffic trouble in the opening furlong. His trouble was nothing compared to that encountered by the Jinks Fires-trained Gray Attempt, front-running winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Jan. 25. Breaking from the rail under Shaun Bridgmohan, Gray Attempt seized the early lead, but was put in tight quarters by Asmussen-trained Jersey Agenda, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., entering the first turn.
After Jersey Agenda went the opening quarter in :23.43, Gray Attempt took the lead and set fractions of :47.63 and 1:12.73 for the first six furlongs, but the early pressure did him in.
“Very unsportsmanlike what they did,” Fires said after the race. “I don't mind them outrunning us, making us keep running. But don't come in and wipe me out.”
Going into the far turn, Jersey Agenda. moved up to the outside of Gray Attempt again, with Mark Casse-trained Olympic Runner racing three wide. Todd Pletcher-trained Cutting Humor also rushed toward the front with a four-wide move, and Thompson swept around all of them and opened up a commanding lead when the field reached the top of the stretch. Super Steed cruised to the wire after a one-mile fraction of 1:37.64.
Super Steed never threatened while finishing seventh of eight runners behind Gray Attempt in the Smarty Jones. Before that, the bay colt ran fourth at even-money in the Dec. 22 Sugar Bowl Stakes going six furlongs at Fair Grounds. He was installed the favorite that day off a six-length maiden win against allowance company in the slop at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24, his second career start.
“He ran just a beautiful race,” said Thompson. “He wasn't as aggressive. The other day (in the Smarty Jones), he got shuffled back, but he was aggressive. Today everything was in flow. It worked out perfect. Larry said wherever we were, make sure he gets the lead heading into stretch. He has a big heart.”
“He's a nice horse,” said Jones. “He got sick going into the Fair Grounds race (Sugar Bowl). It wasn't serious, but you could tell he didn't feel well. And, in the Smarty Jones they ran a Merry Go Round race (a track bias favoring front-runners). Terry did a good job. He had him in a good spot. This is very good. It's been a while since Terry and I have been in this position. This is wonderful.”
Jones gallops his own horses and said Super Steed had never been better than he was coming into the Southwest.
It was the second Southwest Stakes victory for Jones, who saddled Old Fashioned to win in 2009. Thompson won with Great Notion in 2003 and Son of Rocket in 2001.
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