Photo: Michael Burns Photography
What a difference one race can make. 2013 hadn’t been the kind of year the connections of Uncaptured were hoping for. After winning six of seven and becoming the first juvenile to be named the Canadian Horse of the Year in nearly three decades, it is easy to understand why big things were expected. A late start to the son of Lion Heart’s season was followed by a promising second place finish in the Spiral Stakes. With the Kentucky Derby still on the radar, a disappointing tenth place finish in the Blue Grass quickly dashed hopes of running for the roses. Then, to add insult to injury, Uncaptured finished second at 2-5 in the four horse Wando Stakes at his home base of Woodbine. The three-year-old version of the juvenile champion was going nowhere fast.
Six weeks between the shocking loss in the Wando and start number four of the season ensued. Another try at the track he had so much success at last fall, Churchill Downs, and a return to dirt in the Matt Winn seemed to do wonders for the Mark Casse charge. It didn’t bring his first win of the year, but it resulted in by far his best race of the year, as the dark bay colt battled Code West all the way to the wire, while leaving several good horses in their wake. If the Matt Winn was a signal that the real Uncaptured was back, today was confirmation. Gaining his first victory of the season in one of his home country’s most important races, Uncaptured stormed down the Fort Erie lane to win the Prince of Wales going away.
Under confident handling by rider, Miguel Mena, Uncaptured was unhurried early and content to sit back in fifth as Power Phil and River Seven set moderate early fractions. As the field hit the far turn, backers of the heavily favored champion must have had some anxious moments as the second choice, River Seven spurted clear of the rest of the early leaders. The worry didn’t last long, though, as Mena maneuvered the class of the race wide around traffic, and the pair quickly began to gobble up ground. Coming down the lane, Uncaptured collared River Seven quickly, and easily powered by to win the $500,000 by a measured length.
Final time for Uncaptured in the 1 3/16 classic was a sharp 1:55.49, making it the second fastest edition of the middle jewel of Canada’s Triple Crown in the 21st century.
Owned by John Oxley, the victory raised Uncaptured’s impressive career mark to seven wins from twelve starts, and pushed his career earnings to just a shade under the one million dollar mark. The win also earned trainer Mark Casse his second straight Prince of Wales, having won last year with the filly Dixie Strike. He also won in 2009 with Gallant.
As far as what is next for the colt that finally looks to be back to his best form, Casse indicated that it will not be the grassy third leg of the Triple Crown, so a return to big purses in big races back in the United States is likely.