A modest $20,000 yearling purchase for a dark bay son of Creative Cause is reaping rewards for trainer Keith Desormeaux and owners Don't Tell My Wife Stables and Monomoy Stables.
Picking up a $300,000 check and taking a step forward on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Feb. 19 was My Boy Jack, who blew by his nine rivals for a 4 1/2-length victory in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
The rail-skimming drive in the muddy, sealed stretch showed the versatility of the colt, whose only other victory was a closing effort in Oct. 9 Zuma Beach Stakes on the Santa Anita Park turf. Last time out in the Jan. 6 Sham Stakes (G3), he was rank for much of the race and just got up for third, 7 1/4 lengths behind McKinzie.
"It was a complete turnaround effort from his last start. Today he was quite calm and let me ride him, and that was the biggest difference," said winning rider Kent Desormeaux, who was aboard the colt in the Sham. "He didn't waste any energy going around the racetrack, so he flew home. Great training job by Keith."
In Monday's 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds, My Boy Jack settled at the rear of the field, while favored Mourinho took control early. Pressured by Road to Damascus, Mourinho and jockey Drayden Van Dyke galloped through fractions of :23.46, :47.70, and 1:13.56 for six furlongs, as Ezmosh and grade 1 winner Sporting Chance stalked behind the front two.
Mourinho attempted to get away coming out of the final turn, but Kent Desormeaux shifted My Boy Jack to the rail and the colt took off. Leaving a closing Combatant and a yielding Mourinho in his wake, My Boy Jack drew away and hit the wire first in 1:46 flat.
Combatant finished second, 2 1/2 lengths clear of Sporting Chance, who got a neck over Mourinho for third.
"I was able to get him up the rail, but I have to say it was a great training job by Keith," Desormeaux said of his ride. "Last time (in the Sham), he was quiet as a church mouse in the gate, but got very aggressive early and I was just skiing around there. When I turned him loose, he just galloped home. He didn't power home like he did today.
"The best part about the race is he's going to a Derby. It may be the Arkansas Derby (G1), but he's Derby bound."
The winner returned $19.60, $8.20, and $5.20 across the board.
"We didn't get the easy lead like we did last time," said Van Dyke of his ride aboard the Bob Baffert-trained Mourinho, winner of the Jan. 15 Smarty Jones Stakes at the Hot Springs, Ark., oval. "To be honest I think if the track would have been faster and not the condition it's in, I still don't think they would have caught him. I will blame it on the track. He was swimming through it."
My Boy Jack's previous seven starts all came on the West Coast. He came in sixth in his debut on dirt in June, but a switch to turf resulted in a trio of runner-up finishes, including a second in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes. The colt put it together to break his maiden in his next start, the Zuma Beach Stakes, before he finished seventh, three lengths behind Mendelssohn, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T). He returned to the main track in the Sham, proving to his connections that he had versatility.
"For him to run well on dirt—we were ecstatic. I told (Kent) the horse would run well on dirt," Keith Desormeaux said.
Bred by Brereton Jones in Kentucky, My Boy Jack is out of the unraced Mineshaft mare Gold N Shaft. He was a $20,000 purchase at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale by Don't Tell My Wife Stable out of the Legacy Bloodstock consignment.
With his Southwest victory the colt earned 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, improved his record to two wins and four placings, and increased his earnings to $425,145.