Barn Tour: Stewart plans for Pegasus, 3 vets, 8 Derby hopes

Barn Tour: Stewart plans for Pegasus, 3 vets, 8 Derby hopes
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Dallas Stewart’s reputation for delivering successful long shots in big races precedes him. So when he hears about long odds for his horses, he listens.

When he was told about some of the big prices on offer at Nevada racebooks for his Kentucky Derby hopefuls, he said, “I’ll take them for 10 bucks. They’re not going to break you at 10 bucks a pop.”

For Stewart’s older horses who are in a couple big spots this month, the odds are considerably shorter, but they still offer value.

The durable Long Range Toddy is 10-1 on the Oaklawn morning line for Saturday’s $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes, a race that features the return of Concert Tour.

Stewart also has Title Ready and maybe Chess Chief taking aim on the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) on Jan. 29 at Gulfstream Park.

RELATED: See who is in and who is out of the Pegasus World Cup.

Between that trio and his eight 3-year-olds who are in the Derby futures in Las Vegas, Stewart took time out from his work at Fair Grounds in New Orleans on Thursday morning to take Horse Racing Nation and the Ron Flatter Racing Pod by phone on a Barn Tour.

Older horses

Long Range Toddy. It has been nearly three years since his signature victory in the Rebel Stakes (G2). In spite of a 16: 0-2-2 record since, Willis Horton’s homebred 6-year-old entire by Take Charge Indy has earned more than $1 million. He is part of the field of nine in the Fifth Season.

“He’s a hard knocker,” Stewart said. “He was just a nose away from winning two stakes. We’re hoping the mile takes it into his wheelhouse a little bit better. It’s a really tough race. Just good horses everywhere. You just have to run against them.”

Formerly trained by Bob Baffert, 4-year-old colt Concert Tour is the morning-line favorite coming back Saturday from an eight-month spell to make his first start for Brad Cox. He is expected to be on or near the early lead established by 6-year-old gelding Thomas Shelby.

Asked where he wants 61-year-old jockey Jon Court to position Long Range Toddy early in Saturday’s two-turn mile, Stewart said, “I’d like to see him back a little bit. I don’t like to see him up too (close). Anytime he’s been up close, it doesn’t seem like it works as well for him. He’s run some good races coming from off the pace. The faster up front, the better for us if we’re going to take this tactic and set off the pace.”

A 90 percent chance of rain and up to a half-inch of snow are forecast by the National Weather Service for Oaklawn on Saturday.

Title Ready. Thanks to some rejections of early invitations, last year’s Louisiana Stakes (G3) winner who is a Charles Fipke homebred is expected to be welcomed from the also-eligible list for the Pegasus. “We’re pretty committed to taking Title Ready,” Stewart said of the 7-year-old More Than Ready horse who finished sixth in last month’s Tinsel Stakes. “He didn’t have a great race last time in the mud at Oaklawn. He had a good comeback race at Churchill (third place in a November allowance). It’s probably the toughest he’ll ever run in, but he’s been invited, and I’ll give it a shot.”

Chess Chief. Also among the also-eligibles for the Pegasus, the 6-year-old Into Mischief entire might instead be pointed to a stakes at Fair Grounds. All five of Chess Chief’s triumphs have come at the New Orleans track, including Dec. 26 in the Tenacious Stakes. “He loves Fair Grounds,” Stewart said. “There’s some good races there.” Not that the lure of a big purse in South Florida has been ruled out by Stewart or the Coleman family, which owns Chess Chief. “It is the Pegasus. It is $3 million, so it needs to be talked about and looked at. We’ll see. It could go either way.”

3-year-old colts

Strava. The WinStar homebred was a half-length winner in his October debut at Keeneland. The Into Mischief colt is 4-1 on the morning line for a six-furlong, $53,000 allowance, the ninth race Saturday at what is forecast to be an off track at Fair Grounds. “A few works back he flashed a minute and got it easy,” Stewart said, referring to a five-furlong, 1:00.4 bullet Dec. 20. “Brian Hernandez worked him and said, ‘This horse has got a lot of gears.’ Denny Crum, the (retired) coach at Louisville, owns a piece of him, and he’s going to be here to see his race. I think he’s ready. I really do.” Strava is best-priced at 150-1 in Las Vegas futures for the Kentucky Derby.

Hoist the Gold. Jim Culver’s Dream Team One bred and owns this Mineshaft colt that, at 350-1, carries longer odds for the Derby than his stablemate Strava. Also in Saturday’s ninth race at Fair Grounds, Hoist the Gold carries shorter odds at 3-1 on the morning line. Since a maiden victory in September on his third try, he has finished out of the money in three starts, including black-type stakes during the fall at Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds.

Ben Diesel. At 150-1 in the Derby betting, Horton’s homebred colt by Will Take Charge was a first-out winner in October at Churchill Downs. He followed that with a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and a seventh-place result this month in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn. “He had a bad post position last out,” Stewart said. “He had the ‘13’ hole in the mud. He’s going to the Southwest (G3) next on the 29th (at Oaklawn). We hope we get a good post position, and we can where we’re at.”

Surfer Dude. Now 250-1 in the Nevada futures, this maiden winner owned by Mark and Nancy Stanley will race in next Saturday’s points prep at Fair Grounds. “He’ll be in the Lecomte (G3) next,” Stewart said. “He was third in the Gun Runner (Dec. 26). He’s a nice Curlin colt who is progressing nicely.” Surfer Dude already has raced six times, getting his only victory in a seven-furlong maiden race Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs.

Unified Report. Owned by Murray Valene, this $33,000 colt by Unified is 3-for-3, all at 6-7 furlongs, with his two most recent victories coming in autumn races for Louisiana-bred 2-year-olds. “We’re going to stretch him (to 1 1/16 miles), put him in the Lecomte with Surfer Dude and see how he fares,” Stewart said. Unified Report is 300-1 in Derby betting.

Brigadier General. Bought as a yearling for $150,000 by Terry Finley’s West Point Thoroughbreds, he is 4: 0-1-1, most recently finishing sixth in a maiden mile Oct. 2 at Churchill Downs. “Brigadier General is on a comeback trail also,” said Stewart, who has worked the Street Sense colt every week since Dec. 10. “He ran against some really, really good horses, but believe me, he trains hard and looks great. Anything is possible with him.” For the Derby, Brigadier General is 350-1.

B Sudd. An Offshoot Farm homebred, the colt sired by Jimmy Creed broke his maiden on his second try, scoring Oct. 31 at Churchill Downs. He has been on the bench since. “He got banged up a little bit,” Stewart said. “He’s just starting his workouts. He’s probably a long shot to make it (to the Derby).” B Sudd is 300-1 in the Nevada futures.

Spartan Army. This Tapiture colt was an 18-1 winner in his debut Oct. 31 at Churchill Downs, but he has not been back to the track and is off the Derby trail. “He’s on a little bit of a layoff,” Stewart said.

Top Stories

What the week's racing calendar lacks in terms of...
In the middle of a three-week break between points...
The Grade 3, $150,000 Louisiana Stakes  at Fair Gr...
Moms Moon , a half-brother to Grade 1 star Analyze...
In this biweekly series, racing analyst Keeler Joh...