It was supposed to be Bob Baffert’s Mourinho who strengthened his Kentucky Derby claims in Monday’s Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, but the Smarty Jones winner was completely outpointed by My Boy Jack. Here TRC race analyst James Willoughby, who is assessing the action on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, gives his verdict on the race.
ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY 2018
Episode 10: Southwest Stakes (February 18, Oaklawn Park, Grade 3, 8.5f)
Winner: My Boy Jack
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (TRC Global Rank #51)
Owner: Don’t Tell My Wife Stables Et Al (Unranked)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux (#135)
Sire: Creative Cause (#259)
Result and video: click here
The Desormeaux brothers are a formidable team when a good horse comes their way, as 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator readily proved. My Boy Jack has to find a few lengths to reach the same level as his former stable companion, but he is going the right way.
Kent, the younger brother, is a Hall of Fame rider not just by deed but by talent. He was quite superb, dropping the son of Giant’s Causeway horse Creative Cause out on the rail, sneaking into striking position without his mount even sensing exertion, then unleashing full effort at precisely the point it was most effective. If not Exaggerator in talent, this colt is the echo in style; he cleared right away close home and hit the line hard.
Keith, 49, was an underrated horseman for years before I’ve Struck A Nerve caused a 135-1 shock in the 2013 G2 Risen Star Stakes, and the prospect of him featuring on the Triple Crown trail once again adds lustre to a series largely bereft of it at present.
From a technical perspective, My Boy Jack’s 1:46 for the extended mile here wasn’t bad, but the fractions of 23.46-24.24-25.86-26.11-6.33 (25.32 pro-rated) describe a race set up for him as a stone-cold closer. The chance to race over longer trips – the dam Gold N Shaft is by Mineshaft –provides yin to that yang, however, and when a horse is patiently ridden, he can easily have a lot more in hand than a cold-blooded reading of the data suggests.
Whether My Boy Jack can bridge the necessary class divide remains to be seen, but he must be kept on the right side as he tries, not least because his human connections will always provide value to him. He’s a likeable horse, and it will be exciting to watch him develop.
By contrast, hot favourite Mourinho had his limitations exposed. He had dazzled on the figures when winning the Smarty Jones over a mile with a Beyer Speed Figure of 99 (My Boy Jack earned 93 here), but we stick to the view that he is a sprinter, and a tricky one at that. Having barely encountered a straw in his path last time, he folded cheaply when first tackled here.
Previously in this series
1. Sham Stakes (McKinzie)
2. Lecomte (Instilled Regard)
3. Jerome (Firenze Fire)
4. Smarty Jones (Mourinho)
5. Holy Bull (Audible)
6. Withers (Avery Island)
7. Robert B Lewis (Lombo)
8. Sam F Davis (Flameaway)
9. Risen Star (Bravazo)