HOT SPRINGS, AR (Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017) – Uncontested will likely make his next start in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15 at Oaklawn, co-owner Harry Rosenblum of Little Rock, Ark., said Wednesday morning. Rosenblum said he and Uncontested’s trainer, Wayne Catalano, are calling Monday’s $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) a “throw out” after the colt faded to sixth as the favorite.
“He’s perfectly fine,” Rosenblum said after seeing Uncontested Wednesday morning. “He looks good. We’re tickled with where we are with him now and you’re probably going to see the horse back in the Arkansas Derby.”
Uncontested held a clear lead until late in the second turn of the 1 1/16-mile Southwest and was beaten 12 ¾ lengths by One Liner (3 for 3 lifetime), who was making his stakes and two-turn debut.
Uncontested was beaten a length for third by Lookin At Lee, who was making his first start since finishing fourth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.
“It was a good field,” Rosenblum said. “We haven’t lost any confidence in our horse. I think we just draw a line through this race, and congratulations to the horses that finished ahead of us.”
Uncontested, in his 3-year-old debut, was a record-setting 5 ¼-length wire-to-wire winner of the $150,000 Smarty Jones Jan. 16.
Oaklawn’s four-race Kentucky Derby prep series continues with the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18. But, Uncontested will likely follow the same path as Far Right, who won the Smarty Jones and Southwest in 2015 for Rosenblum and co-owner Robert LaPenta, skipped the Rebel and ran second to eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Arkansas Derby. LaPenta also co-owns Uncontested.
“It’s the same kind of plan for a different horse,” Rosenblum said, adding the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (G2) April 8 at Keeneland is an outside possibility because of its timing. “I’d say we’d like to win the Arkansas Derby here at home, and the horse does well over this track.”
Uncontested recorded the most lopsided margin of victory in the 10-year history of the Smarty Jones. His time of 1:36.32 was a stakes record and the second-fastest mile clocking by a 3-year-old during January at Oaklawn.