Robert Yagos’ Archarcharch finished first in a scramble in the grade III Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park Feb. 21 to earn his first graded-stakes victory and move forward on the Triple Crown trail (VIDEO).
Ridden by Jon Court for his father-in-law, trainer William “Jinks” Fires, Archarcharch rallied from off the pace to win the one-mile Southwest, one of the Arkansas racetrack’s lead-up races to the grade I Arkansas Derby. The winner paid $31 in an 11-horse field.
Archarcharch never was worse than fifth in the Southwest not far behind the leaders. Court asked him for run on the far turn, and the colt blew by the leaders to open up by 2 1/2 lengths.
Fractions for the Southwest, run on a fast track, were :22.60 for the opening quarter-mile, :46.88 for the half-mile, 1:12.04 for six furlongs, and 1:38.23 for the mile.
Archarcharch, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Arch out of the Woodman mare Woodman’s Dancer, broke his maiden in his second start, the Super Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Dec. 18. He then finished a well-beaten fourth in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Jan. 17 on a good track.
"He was just a little rank that day," Yagos said after the Southwest. "He's a horse that needs to run off the pace a little bit. He just went to the lead, and as tiring as the track was that day, nothing in the lead was winning that day."
Joe Petalino, who trains J P's Gusto, said he had a rough trip and should rebound.
"I knew the distance wasn't going to be a problem," Petalino said. "He was closing in his last race. We just need to get a clean trip the next time around."
J P's Gusto and the others could resurface March 19 in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn.
Said jockey Ramon Dominguez, who rode J P's Gusto: “At the quarter pole, when I wanted to move, there were horses around me and I couldn't get out. When the winner started moving up super early I could have gotten out, but I thought I didn't want to have to make my move so soon.
"I figured I'd take my chances. I knew about the short stretch, but we just didn't get the chance to get out in time. He felt like the mile is right up his alley.”
Calvin Borel, who rode Elite Alex, said he wasn't disappointed with the effort. “I just couldn't get out when I needed to," he said. "This colt is going to be all right. He wants to stretch out. I was a little wide and it hurt us.”