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The Racing Dudes team recaps Newgrange’s multiple rebreaks that led to victory in Saturday’s Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park, then discuss who they like moving forward toward the Kentucky Derby (G1), including any potential longshots.
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The track press release:
Heavy 3-2 favorite Newgrange, who shipped in Wednesday from his Southern California base, had no issues adjusting to new surroundings and is now a perfect three for three after winning Saturday’s $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) impressively before a crowd of 27,000.
Making his first start beyond a mile, Newgrange settled into third as Kavod set the early pace through fractions of :23 and :47 1/5 for the first half mile. Jockey John Velazquez began to ask the winner for run while four wide late in the second turn and after stalling just a bit mid-stretch, he found another gear to win by 1 ½ lengths over Barber Road in 1:45 4/5 for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track. Ben Diesel was third, followed by the early pace setter Kavod.
“We saw he had a different dimension today, the way the race set up,” winning trainer Bob Baffert said via phone from California. “Pretty proud of the way he ran. Johnny (Velazquez) said he was struggling with the track a little bit earlier and I could tell that. Usually, he’s on the lead. But all the way down the backside he was in a good spot.”
Newgrange has now earned $552,000 for owners SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Racing LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet LLC, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC, Catherine Donovan, Golconda Stable and Siena Farm LLC.
Because Baffert has been suspended by Churchill Downs, his horses are ineligible for Kentucky Derby qualifying points so therefore, Newgrange did not receive the 10 points allotted to the winner. The suspension stems from a possible medication violation involving his 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit. Barber Road, who was also second in the Smarty Jones, earned another four points for second to bring his total to eight, Ben Diesel earned two points for third and now has a total of three and Kavod earned one point. Barber Road is now ranked 13th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. Only 20 horses can start based on points.
Oaklawn’s two remaining races for 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail are the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) (85 points) on Feb. 26 and the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) (170 points) on April 2.
One race after the Southwest, Bob’s Edge upset the $150,000 King Cotton with a come from behind victory at odds of 7-1. Home Base was second at 27-1 and Seven Army Nation was third at 14-1. Even money favorite Nashville was seventh, while Grade 1 winner Collusion Illusion was eighth.
Bob’s Edge, trained by Larry Jones and ridden by Luis Quinonez, won the fifth time in 12 starts and has now earned $396,428 for owners Michael and Patricia Freeny and Jennifer Grayson Taylor.
Live racing resumes Sunday with at 12:30 p.m. first post
Trainer Bob Baffert, winner Newgrange: “We saw he had a different dimension today, the way the race set up. Pretty proud of the way he ran. Johnny (Velazquez) said he was struggling with the track a little bit earlier and I could tell that. Usually, he’s on the lead. But all the way down the backside he was in a good spot. You never know, but he showed some real grit down the stretch to win that race. Love going to Oaklawn Park and winning those big races. It was pretty exciting to watch, the stretch. He’ll come back to California and we’ll figure out our next move.”
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., second on Barber Road: “To be honest, this horse ran a good race. We don’t have any excuses. The winner was much the best. We’ll see when we come back again.”
Jockey Jon Court, third on Ben Diesel: “The rail opened up in the stretch, but he looked and saw something at the sixteenth pole. He looked and saw something and that (drifting to the outside) kind of took away his momentum. I had to stay after him and he responded well.”
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