SOUTHWEST STAKES | PURSE: $250,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 3 | 1 MILE
The Bob Baffert-trained Castaway stepped up off a maiden win at Santa Anita to dominate the first division of Monday's Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, kicking off a big-race double with stablemate Secret Circle, who prevailed as the 3-5 favorite in the second division.
Owned by the Coolmore partnership of Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith, Castaway didn't get nearly as much respect as Secret Circle. The Street Sense colt was overlooked as the fifth choice at 6-1, but made those odds look far too generous.
Breaking widest of all from post 11 with Rafael Bejarano, Castaway flashed early speed to angle over and press the front-running Majestic Stride through fractions of :23 2/5 and :48. Meanwhile, fellow Southern California shipper Longview Drive, the slight 3-1 favorite, settled in ninth. Debut maiden winner Unbridled's Note, the 3-1 second choice, was off to a tardy start in this second career appearance and wound up at the back of the pack.
Castaway drew alongside Majestic Stride through six furlongs in 1:12 3/5, and appeared to be traveling more easily than the early pacesetter. As soon as they straightened up for the short stretch, Castaway put his pace partner away and kicked 3 3/4 lengths clear. After finishing the mile in 1:38 on the fast track, the commanding winner rewarded his backers with $15.40, $9.40 and $7.20.
Jake Mo rallied late to be best of the rest, edging Reckless Jerry by a half-length. Ring It Up checked in another neck away in fourth, followed by Majestic Stride. There was a triple dead heat for sixth among Longview Drive, Junebugred and No Spin. Next came Unbridled's Note, Laurie's Rocket and Red Jack.
Castaway now becomes the second American-based graded stakes winner on the Derby trail for Coolmore. Tabor and Magnier's Battle Hardened entered the picture by breaking his maiden in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa on February 4.
A $435,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, Castaway was winless in his first five starts, but looked useful while placing three times. The bay colt finally put it all together in his sixth try, in a 1 1/16-mile maiden at his home base of Santa Anita on January 21. With the first division of the Southwest to his credit, Castaway sports a 7-2-1-2 line and $209,930 in earnings.
Bred by Hertrich/McCarthy Livestock in Kentucky, Castaway is out of the winning Storm Cat mare Priceless Storm, who is a half-sister to multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire Master Command, multiple Grade 3 victress Aurora Lights and Grade 1-placed X Star. This is the star-studded family of Grade 1 hero and millionaire Al Mamoon and Grade 1 queen La Gueriere, the dam of Grade 1 diva Icon Project and Grade 2-winning sire Lasting Approval. Others in the female line include Grade 1 victor Honor in War and multiple Grade 2 scorer Munnings.
Castaway's fourth dam is 1965 Futurity and Frizette heroine Priceless Gem, dam of all-time great Allez France. The line traces to the phenomenal matriarch *La Troienne.