Photo courtesy of Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs
This blog, called Making the Grade, will run right up until the Belmont Stakes (G1). The main focus will be on winners of key races, usually from from the previous weekend, who could impact the 2013 Triple Crown. But classic horses can come from anywhere, so minor stakes races and other races are fair game.
We’ll be taking a close look at these impressive winners and evaluating their chances to win the 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) based on factors such as talent, running style, pedigree, and connections (owner, trainer, jockey).
During the weeks when there are no key races on the Derby trail, we’ll take a look back at some of the top contenders who already have shown flashes of the type of class needed to be a contender for Triple Crown glory.
This week we take a look at Uncaptured, the early 10-1 favorite to win the 2013 Kentucky Derby with the Wynn Las Vegas Race & Sports Book.
Dark Bay or Brown Colt
Sire: Lion Heart
Dam: Captivating, by Arch
Breeder: William D. Graham (On.)
Owners: John C. Oxley
Trainer: Mark Casse
Uncaptured cemented his credentials as a colt to be reckoned with on the 2013 Triple Crown trail with a pair of graded stakes wins at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. He won the Iroquois Stakes (G3) by 5 ½ lengths before facing a more difficult test when fully extended by Frac Daddy in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) on Nov. 24. Uncaptured held off Frac Daddy by a neck in a thrilling battle to the finish line.
UNCAPTURED, RIDDEN BY MIGUEL MENA, WINNING KENTUCKY JOCKEY CLUB
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Super Saver won the Kentucky Jockey Club in 2009 and went on to win the Kentucky Derby in 2010 and Real Quiet finished third in the race in 1997 before going on to sweep the first two legs of the Triple Crown in 1998.
Having shown an affinity for the Churchill surface is a nice advantage for Uncaptured heading into 2013.
Trainer Mark Casse plucked Uncaptured out of the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale on behalf of owner John Oxley, who won the Kentucky Derby in 2001 with Monarchos. Uncaptured fits the mold of the type of horse Casse has targeted in recent years, focusing on purchasing yearlings and 2-year-olds with the ability to excel in longer races and potentially become Derby contenders. This year, Derby starter Prospective was from the Casse/Oxley team as was 2012 Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) third-place finisher Stealcase. Uncaptured is part of a deep group of 2-year-olds Casse has on the path to the 2013 classics.
With five stakes wins in 2012, three of them at Woodbine in Canada, Uncaptured has proven class. In fact, he showed great ability from the first time he stepped into the starting gate. He won his debut in May at Woodbine and came right back and won the 5 1/2–furlong (a furlong is an eighth of a mile) Claredon Stakes by 5 ½ lengths, showing a nice combination of speed and precocity. After two more stakes wins at Woodbine, Uncaptured disappointed in his first attempt stretching out in distance in a two-turn race when fifth in the 1 1/16-mile Grey Stakes (Can-G3). He more than made amends with back-to-back stakes wins in the fall at Churchill.
The speed Uncaptured flashed early in his career remains in his arsenal and he utilizes that weapon to gain good position early in his races. That “ratable speed” is a valuable asset when the races start getting longer and longer on the path to the Derby.
Uncaptured’s speed most likely comes from his father, Lion Heart, who was able to run very fast and carry his speed a long way. A Grade 1 winner at two, Lion Heart finished second to Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby and later that season won the 1 1/8-mile Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1). Although probably better suited to races a bit shorter than the 1 ¼-mile Derby distance, three of Lion Heart’s four graded stakes wins came in races going around two turns, so he was no sprinter.
Uncaptured’s female family is less exciting than his sire’s although there are some nice graded stakes horses if you dig a little bit deeper than the first few generations. His dam (mother) is a mare named Captivating, who is by Arch, a sire known as a source of stamina. Uncaptured is a half-brother (same mother, different father) to Dancing Raven, who won a stakes race at one mile on the grass and a stakes sprinting on Woodbine’s synthetic Polytrack surface. Dancing Raven and Uncaptured are Captivating’s first two offspring to race, so she’s off to a nice beginning.
Casse comes from a racing family and started working for his father, Norman, at the age of 15. He won his first race at 18 in 1979 at Keeneland Race Course and is a four-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s outstanding trainer, with 2007 Canadian Horse of the Year Sealy Hill among his stars.
Only two Canadian-bred horses have won the Kentucky Derby: Northern Dancer in 1964 and Sunny’s Halo in 1983. Could Uncaptured make it three? He certainly looks like a legitimate contender.