Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox and nationally renowned owners Gary and Mary West were opponents on Oaklawn’s 2021 road to the Kentucky Derby. But several months after the meeting ended in May, they began to collaborate and already have two victories together this season in Hot Springs.
“I have no idea how many horses they sent me,” said Cox, Oaklawn’s 2021-22 lead trainer. “I can’t even keep up. We have a lot. It’s great to work with them.
Perhaps the most intriguing prospect Cox received from the Wests after the Oaklawn 2021 reunion, Concert Tour, was among the biggest names at the Oaklawn 2021 reunion.
Then with Hall of Fame coach Bob Baffert, Concert Tour was a blowout winner of the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds last March – Cox-trained Caddo River was fifth – ahead of his unbeaten record and Kentucky Derby hopes. crashed out with a weakened third-place finish in the $1million Arkansas Derby (G1) in April. Caddo River finished second in the Arkansas Derby.
Concert Tour, which hasn’t raced since a ninth-place finish at Preakness last May, makes its first start for Cox in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes for Older Horses on Saturday at Oaklawn. The fifth season of 1 Mile drew a strong group of nine, including three millionaires (Rated R Superstar, Snapper Sinclair and Long Range Toddy), another Oaklawn Stakes winner (Silver Prospector) and Mucho, who will debut in two towers. .
The likely start time for season five, which is the eighth of nine races, is 3:46 p.m. (Central). The first post on Saturday is 12:30 p.m.
Concert Tour, the 5-2 program favorite, has released nine workouts since Nov. 14 before his debut at age 4. Concert Tour was entered into the $75,000 Woodchopper Stakes on December 27 at Fair Grounds, but was withdrawn after the race failed to emerge from the grass. An advanced factor at the start of his first five career starts, the Concert Tour’s return to Oaklawn will mark his first start without blinkers. It also adds Lasix for the first time since its debut last January at Santa Anita.
“I really like it,” Cox said. “He is a talented horse. I think if he runs like he trains, we will be in good shape.
The fifth-season projected field from the rail: Thomas Shelby, David Cohen to ride, 122 pounds, 5-1 on the morning line; R-rated superstar David Cabrera, 122, 8-1; Snapper Sinclair, Ramon Vazquez, 122, 6-1; Necker Island, Francisco Arrieta, 122, 9-2; Concert Tour, Joel Rosario, 122, 5-2; Atoka, Luis Contreras, 122, 15-1; long-range Toddy, Jon Court, 115, 10-1; Silver digger, Ricardo Santana Jr., 115, 10-1; and Mucho, Florent Géroux, 122, 7-2.
Mucho came just off the pace to capture a Dec. 18 allowance sprint at Oaklawn for trainer John Ortiz and owners WSS Racing (William Simon) and 4G Racing (Brent and Sharilyn Gasaway). Mucho bankrolled $686,729 in 29 races, but 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner’s 6-year-old son Blame never ran around two laps. Ortiz, on behalf of WSS and 4G, claimed Mucho for $80,000 in November 2020 at Churchill Downs.
“For me, I don’t think distance will be an issue,” Ortiz said. “The only variable we have here will be the two corners. Will he sprint and run away or will he sprint and be able to gauge and dictate the speed or just not keep pace and to use his sprint ability for the finish?
Snapper Sinclair is seeking his first career victory on clay after finishing second, batting a neck in the fifth 2020 season and finishing fifth in the fifth 2019 season for Hall of Fame coach Steve Asmussen and co-owner Jeff Bloom ( Bloom Racing). Snapper Sinclair finished fifth in his last start, the $100,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes on Dec. 18 at Turfway Park. Turfway has a synthetic surface.
“He came out of the Breeders’ Cup in such good shape and we didn’t really have any options with him and he hadn’t raced on a synthetic track yet,” Bloom said. “We just thought, ‘What is this? Let’s try it.’ It was one of his extremely rare, sort of flat performances, so we just drew a line through that and focused on the year ahead.
Speedy Thomas Shelby comes back a mile after finishing a match second to stablemate Lone Rock in the inaugural $200,000 1 1/8 mile Tinsel Stakes on Dec. 18 at Oaklawn for trainer Robertino Diodoro.
“I think it’s the best race he’s ever run,” Diodoro said.
Thomas Shelby has won seven races in 2021, including two last spring at Oaklawn, after being bought privately by Diodoro’s main customer, local four-time owner M and M Racing (Mike and Mickala Sisk).
Silver Prospector, another Asmussen trainee, is aiming for his first win since the $750,000 Southwest (G3) 3-year-old in 2020 at Oaklawn. Necker Island finished ninth in the rescheduled 2020 Kentucky Derby and is back on a road after finishing fourth in the $150,000 Thanksgiving Classic Stakes Nov. 25 at Fair Grounds for 2015 Oaklawn Practice Champion Chris Hartman.
The fifth season is a major stepping stone to the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses on April 23. The Asmussen-trained Silver State won the fifth season and the Oaklawn Handicap in 2021.
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