By: EverythingEQ News Team
Oaklawn Park’s series of Kentucky Derby prep races kicked off on a rainy note Monday, January 16, but the off-track was of no bother for Robert LaPenta and Harry Rosenblum’s Uncontested. The dark bay colt coasted to an easy victory in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes, much the best in the field of eight.
Uncontested, with Channing Hill up, was sent off as the 6-5 favorite and acted the part every step of the race. The pair broke well and went straight to the lead, never looking back, to take the field through an opening quarter-mile in :23.04 with a 1 ½ length lead. Petrov gave chase to the leader but could not catch him as they went through a half-mile in :46.21 and six-furlongs in 1:10.70. Uncontested was 3 ½ lengths ahead as he came out of the turn and expanded from there, hitting the wire 5 ¼ lengths ahead and under wraps. Petrov held on for second place, with Rowdy the Warrior behind him in third. The final time for the mile over a sloppy and sealed surface was 1:36.32.
The time, despite the off-surface, was the fastest running of the Smarty Jones. From the previous nine editions, the winner had not run faster than 1:38.
“I almost feel bad getting after him,” Channing Hill said. “At the top of the lane he was traveling really nice and he was handling the track well. He’s such a cool, classy little guy… but he can get a little lazy on you. He was still moving forward, but I just gave him a few taps as a reminder about what we were doing today and he absolutely cruised from there.”
With the victory, Uncontested picked up ten points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard and now ranks fourth behind Classic Empire, Gormley, and Practical Joke. Petrov earned four points, Rowdy the Warrior two points, and Warrior’s Club one point.
Trainer Wayne Catalano was pleased with the results of the race. “The goal was break and go,” he said. “You think you want to be on the front end, but when you do that, there’s always a cavalry charge. You just have to let it play out. You never want an off track, but he handled it before OK. Sometimes it rains on the first Saturday in May, so you better be ready.”
Uncontested is a three-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Tiz Wonderful and is out of the Lil E. Tee mare, Galileo’s Star. Monday’s victory is the first stakes win for the colt, who has two wins from three starts. He debuted at Keeneland in October as an impressive winner and moved straight to stakes company, finishing fourth in the Gr.2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in November. Uncontested was purchased for $20,000 at the Keeneland September 2015 Yearling Sale and, to date, has earned $135,300.