Weekend Review: Oxbow wins LeComte// Palace Malice 2nd to Majestic Hussar at Gulfstream// 9 set for Smarty Jones// Brown looking at Bluegrass for turf runners// Holy Bull workouts

LeComte Stakes (G3)
Winner (pts): Oxbow (10)
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Jockey: Jon Court
2nd, 3rd, 4th (pts): Golden Soul (4), Fear The Kitten (2), Ive Struck a Nerve (1)
Chart: Equibase
Replay: Bloodhorse
Wrap-up Articles: Bloodhorse / DRF / Brisnet
CTD Analysis: Two camps seem to be forming after Oxbow’s absolute domination in the LeComte Saturday.  A few were impressed, but many felt it only proved the field was weak.  I will stay cautiously optimistic and not pitch my tent in either camp.  There have surely been weaker fields in an early January graded stakes for 3-year-olds.  The cast included winners of graded stakes, listed stakes, and open allowances- not to mention promising maiden breakers.  True, there were questions for many of those winners, such as how they would take to dirt or if their pedigree would allow them to excel going two-turns.  And the answer for now is they all failed.  However, you can’ rule out the possibility Oxbow has simply progressed and matured. And it’s not as if his résumé was weak going into the race.  Before his lackluster 4th last time out on synthetic in the CashCall (G1), he convincingly won a crowded maiden contest at Churchill by over 4 lengths.  Lukas has always been high on him and pointed out the win was even more impressive considering he was one of the only late shippers.  Oxbow’s sire Awesome Again won multiple grade 1’s going 10 furlongs, and there are also distance signs on his dam side. The main concern for Oxbow is his frontend running style. His two wins have come in wire-to-wire fashion, something that does not happen often in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby. Oxbow will be pointed to the Risen Star (G2) at the Fair Grounds February 23 or possibly the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn February 18.

It’s difficult to get excited about any other LeComte participant, but I’m not giving up on 2nd place finisher Golden Soul who was bumped and pinched back at the start.  He then had to race wide most of the way and wound up making a good run down the stretch.  Jockey Brian Hernandez thinks he put in a solid effort considering the obstacles and step up in class and believes he’ll get better with added distance and seasoning.

Upcoming Points Race:
Smarty Jones Stakes- 1/23/13
Oaklawn Park
1 Mile
Derby Points 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th: 10, 4, 2, 1
Time/TV: 5:38PM ET/TVG

Weekend News Summary:
Trainer Chad Brown is pointing two of his best 3-year-old turf stars, Noble Tune and Balance the Books, to the Bluegrass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland April 13. They will start in a turf race before that, which means if they qualify for the Derby we will have no measure of how well they will perform on dirt.  Defenders of turf and synthetic runners like to point out Kentucky Derby winners Animal Kingdom, Big Brown, Barbaro, and others had success off dirt before coming to Louisville, but they don’t mention the long list of those who failed to make the switch. Just last year, horses that competed on synthetic or won their best races on it, finished 3rd (not bad), 4th (not bad), 8th, 9th, and 20th (real bad).  A mixed bag for sure, but results that won’t cause me to run to the windows and bet on either Noble Tune or Balance the Books on the first Saturday in May// Majestic Hussar crashed the return party for Saratoga maiden winner Palace Malice in an allowance at Gulfstream Saturday. Majestic Hussar also broke his maiden at Saratoga in August, but followed it up with a dismal 7th place in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) before a comeback 2nd in another Gulfstream allowance in December.  While trainer Eddie Kenneally is confident and asserted he will put the colt on the Derby trail, the fact that Majestic Hussar’s two wins have both come on sloppy sealed tracks gives pause.  The Fountain of Youth (G2) February 23rd is the likely next race target// There has been some mystery on the status of Purple Egg, an undefeated colt by Lion Heart, who was scratched from both the Gulfstream Park Derby and Pasco Stakes.  Trainer Jane Cibelli finally admitted Purple Egg was still suffering the effects of a fever and they are taking it slow// Clearly Now, 3rd in the Display Stakes at Woodbine in December, is pointing for the Holy Bull (G3) Saturday.  He’ll face newly minted 2-year-old Champion Shanghai Bobby and a likely short field.  Shanghai Bobby had his final work before the Holy Bull Sunday, going 5 furlongs in 1:00.88.  Bern Identity and Dewey Square both posted 5-furlong moves at Palm Meadows and Gulfstream respectively// Reports from Aqueduct suggest Todd Pletcher’s Revolutionary is training like a monster.  He’s on schedule for the Withers (G3) on February 2// more…


Vyjack- AQU- 4F- 51:01- B- 17/23
Itsmyluckyday- CRC- 4F- 48:40- B- 2/57
Honorable Dillon- PMM- 5F- 1.01:70- B- 15/22
Fury Kapcori- HOL- 6F- 1.12:40- H- 1/3
Tour Guide- FG- 4F- 49:20- B- 29/88

Dewey Square- GP- 5F- 59:10- B- 1/20
War Academy- SA- 4F- 48:20- H- 6/27
Violence- PMM- 4F- 50:90- B- 41/45
Capo Bastone- PMM- 4F- 49:55- B- 24/45
Overanalyze- PMM- 4F- 51:62- B- 44/45
Normandy Invasion- PMM- 4F- 49:93- B- 34/45
Bern Identity- PMM- 5F- 59:33- B- 1/13
Shanghai Bobby- PMM- 5F- 1.00:88- B- 5/13
Verrazano- PMM- 5F- 1.00:88- B- 5/13
Revolutionary- BEL- 4F- 48:05- B- 13/78

Quotes and Tweets:
“Oxbow scheduled to ship back to #Oaklawn today, trainer Wayne Lukas said. Several next-race options, including Southwest and Rebel at Oaklawn”- Robert Yates via Twitter