Don’t Tell My Wife Stables and Monomoy Stables LLC’s My Boy Jack went from turf horse to Kentucky Derby (GI) contender with a perfectly timed rail-skimming trip to win the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (GIII) at Oaklawn Park on the Presidents Day Holiday on Monday. Trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by his Hall of Fame brother, Kent, the son of Creative Cause crossed the wire 4 ½ lengths in front and earned his first 10 points toward making the gate for the May 5 Kentucky Derby (GI).
At odds of just under 9-1, My Boy Jack paid $19.60, $8.20 and $5.20. Runner-up Combatant completed the $50.90 exacta and was worth $6 and $4 at nearly 5-1. Grade 1 winner Sporting Chance crossed the wire 2 ½ lengths farther back in third and returned $5 at 9-2. The trifecta paid $159.35 for 50 cents.
As expected, the favored Smarty Jones Stakes winner Mourinho sped right to the lead after the break and led the field through splits of :23.46, :47.70 and 1:13.56 with Road to Damascus, Ezmosh and Sporting Chance chasing. The winner, meanwhile, was content to be in front of just one for more than a half-mile before Desormeaux decided he’d better get his mount to work. As the leading pack was rounding the far bend, My Boy Jack was weaving around rivals and as just before reaching the three-eighths pole, ducked in toward the rail to save some extra ground.
Mourinho fought gamely to hold onto his lead when challenged by Sporting Chance to his outside and a fast-closing Combatant to the far outside, but the rail-skimming trip proved profitable for My Boy Jack as he burst to the lead along the rail and after logging a mile in 1:39.67, continued on gamely to the wire for the win. Over a sealed main track labeled muddy after heavy rain earlier in the day, My Boy Jack finished the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.
Mourinho finished fourth at 6-5 and was followed by Zing Zang, Kentucky Club and the dead-heating Seven Trumpets and Retirement Fund. Road to Damascus and Ezmosh rounded out the order of finish after Principe Guilherme was withdrawn and ran in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Saturday.
“I was able to get him up the rail, but I have to say it was a great training job by Keith [Desormeaux, trainer],” Kent Desormeaux said of his brother. “Last time, [when third in Sham Stakes at Santa Anita] he was quiet as a church mouse in the gate, but got very aggressive early and I was just skiing around there. When I turned him loose, he just galloped home. He didn’t power home like he did today.
“The best part about the race is he’s going to a Derby. It may be the Arkansas Derby, but he’s Derby bound.”
My Boy Jack was bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones and was a $14,000 RNA as a Keeneland November weanling in 2015, but brought $20,000 as a yearling through the same auction arena the following September. The son of the unraced Mineshaft mare Gold N Shaft more than made up for his purchase price — and a whole lot more — with the $300,000 winner’s share of the Southwest purse and his career bankroll now stands at $425,145. His career line reads 8-2-3-1.
Early in his career last summer, the bay colt had some success on the turf, including breaking his maiden in a stakes and earning a second-place finish in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf before finishing second, beaten just more than three lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GIT). Back on the dirt in the new year, he was third in the Sham Stakes (GIII) behind the highly regarded McKinzie before shipping to Oaklawn for Monday’s win.
“For him to run well on dirt, we were ecstatic,” the winning trainer said. “I told [Kent] the horse would run well on dirt.”