Dublin, winner of the Three Chimneys Hopeful (gr. I) as a juvenile, drew post 10 for his 3-year-old debut and will take on a solid group of rivals that includes three California shippers in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn Park.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner, has said that Dublin gives him his best chance at taking the roses in several years and the son of Afleet Alex will take his first step toward that goal against nine challengers. The one-mile Southwest is the first of three key 3-year-old graded preps at Oaklawn, with the $300,000 Rebel (gr. II) on March 13 and $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) on April 10 to follow.
Dublin turned in a pair of dull efforts after his Hopeful victory at Saratoga last summer, finishing fifth in Belmont Park’s Champagne (gr. I) and seventh in Churchill Downs’ Iroquois (gr. III), but Lukas said the chestnut colt was hampered by an entrapped epiglottis, a problem which he had surgery to correct at the end of the year. He has turned in several sharp works at Oaklawn in preparation for the Southwest.
Bred in Kentucky by Peter Blum and Gerry Dilger, Dublin is out of the Storm Bird mare Classy Mirage. He was a $525,000 Keeneland September 2008 yearling purchase for Robert Baker and William Mack. Lukas has assigned Terry Thompson to ride Dublin for the first time.
“He's 100% now," Lukas said. “He's a whole different horse now. He was probably only getting 60 or 70% of his air before (the surgery). I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.”
Among Dublin’s chief rivals are a trio of horses invading from California—Conveyance, Cardiff Giant, and Domonation—the one-two-three finishers of the San Rafael Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 16 at Santa Anita. All of them will be making their first starts on dirt.
Zabeel Racing International’s Conveyance is undefeated in three lifetime starts for Bob Baffert, including his impressive 1 3/4-length score in the San Rafael, with Cardiff Giant outfinishing Domonation by three parts of a length for runner-up. A son of Indian Charlie, Conveyance has flashed devastating early speed in all three of starts and is expected to be near the front end once again in the Southwest with Eclipse Award-winning rider Garrett Gomez flying in from California for the mount. They will break from post 2 with Conveyance carrying 122 pounds.
M Racing’s Cardiff Giant, who was claimed for $32,000 as a juvenile, has already started 10 times with a 2-5-2 record to show for his efforts. Joy Ride Racing and La Cresta Farm’s Domonation also has a runner-up finish in the Stuka Stakes at Hollywood Park in December on his resume.
Charles Stella’s Dryfly went wire-to-wire in the Smarty Jones Stakes over the same Oaklawn ground on Jan. 18 in his 2 1/4-length score. The Jump Start gelding has won three of four starts overall for trainer Lynn Whiting and will keep regular rider Calvin Borel for the Southwest. He will also carry top weight of 122 pounds.
Twin Creeks racing Stables’ Mission Impazible broke his maiden at first asking last fall at Keeneland, then ran third in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill. He was beaten only a head in his sophomore debut Jan. 9 at Gulfstream Park over a sloppy track in allowance company. John Velazquez will have the call for Todd Pletcher.
$250,000 Southwest Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, 5:02 p.m.), 3YO, 1 Mile (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Kitty's Turn (KY), R Albarado, 115, G A Thomas
2. Conveyance (KY), G K Gomez, 122, B Baffert
3. Cardiff Giant (KY), C Santiago Reyes, 115, J Periban
4. Mission Impazible (KY), J R Velazquez, 115, T A Pletcher
5. Domonation (KY), C S Nakatani, 115, J W Sadler
6. Dryfly (KY), C H Borel, 122, L S Whiting
7. Crider (FL), L S Quinonez, 115, S M Asmussen
8. Cool Bullet (FL), B J Hernandez Jr., 117, S Margolis
9. Pleasant Storm (OK), L B McNeil, 117, J Petalino
10. Dublin (KY), T J Thompson, 117, D W Lukas