Trainer Ron Moquett said Thursday morning that he’s leaning toward running Petrov in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18 at Oaklawn, the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15.
Petrov, who is owned by Moquett and Rialto Racing Stables (Catherine Adams Hutt), has finished second in both starts this year, including Monday’s $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3), when he was beaten 3 ½ lengths by undefeated One Liner at 1 1/16 miles.
Moquett said Petrov came out of the race fine physically, but isn’t ready to commit to the 1 1/16-mile Rebel.
“He’s in charge of him,” Moquett said. “If he keeps squealing whenever I do my jogging on him, then he tells me he needs more, we’ll go from there. Basically, I just came out of that race hoping that he was happy and healthy and ready to move forward and let him tell me at what level.”
Petrov, as he did in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 16, chased a loose-on-the lead Uncontested under New York-based Jose Ortiz, an Eclipse Awards finalist for outstanding jockey after leading the country in victories last year.
Unlike the one-mile Smarty Jones – Uncontested was a record-setting 5 ¼-length winner – Petrov was able to collar the front-runner turning for home. He held a length lead in midstretch before One Liner powered to the front on the outside past the eighth pole.
“I actually planned on being a little farther back and making my run a little bit later,” Moquett said. “But the way the track was playing, I think we did the best thing.”
Since winning the Smarty Jones and Southwest in 2015 with Far Right, Moquett has finished second to eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the 2015 Arkansas Derby (Far Right), second in the 2016 Southwest (Whitmore), second in the 2016 Rebel (Whitmore) third in the 2016 Arkansas Derby (Whitmore), second in the 2017 Smarty Jones (Petrov) and second in the 2017 Southwest (Petrov).
“It’s frustrating, all but financially,” said Moquett, who also co-owns Whitmore.
Immediately following late-running Lookin At Lee’s third-place finish in the Southwest, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said “100 percent the plan for him (Lookin At Lee) is to stay here and get the races in him.”
Lookin At Lee, who had been based this winter at Fair Grounds, was making his first start since finishing fourth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita. He was beaten 11 ¾ lengths by One Liner.
“A mile and a sixteenth again next time, I think he’ll be better with the race in him,” Asmussen said. “He’s got a very laid-back demeanor. He’s a big, heavy horse. He’ll benefit from the race, but he’s got a lot of ground to make up.”
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Thursday morning that plans are pending for Dilettante, who finished fifth in the Southwest, beaten 12 ½ lengths. The colt, who was making his stakes debut, was among four horses (3-4-5-6 finishers) separated by a length at the wire.
“I thought Dilettante was going to be third,” Lukas said. “He looked like he was, then he hung there just enough to get beat by a couple. But they were all right there.”
Lukas said he’s got a “couple of weeks” to ponder Dilettante’s next start.
Lukas said Warrior’s Club, 11th in the Southwest, will make his next start at Keeneland.
Rowdy the Warrior, ninth in the Southwest, will be pointed for a conditioned allowance race, trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said Thursday morning. Rowdy the Warrior and Warrior’s Club ran third and fourth, respectively, in the Smarty Jones.
Neither Florida-based One Liner or Uncontested are scheduled to run in the Rebel.
Uncontested, the Southwest betting favorite, will likely make his next start in the Arkansas Derby, co-owner Harry Rosenblum said Wednesday morning.