Cox: 'Frustration' over Concert Tour's last-place comeback

Cox: 'Frustration' over Concert Tour's last-place comeback
Photo: Ted McClenning/Eclipse Sportswire

Concert Tour’s first start as a 4-year-old resembled his last start at 3: prominent early and leg weary late.

Making his first start since the Preakness last May, Concert Tour finished last of nine in Saturday’s $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses at 1 mile. The 3-2 favorite stalked the early pace before being beaten 15 lengths in his first start for trainer Brad Cox and first without blinkers.

“He’s fine,” Cox said Sunday afternoon. “He bounced out of it. Obviously, there’s some frustration, but that’s part of it.”

Two of Concert Tour’s three victories for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert came when leading at every point of call, including his career debut last January at Santa Anita and the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds last March at Oaklawn. The 1 1/16-mile Rebel was Concert Tour’s first race around two turns.

Concert Tour didn’t make the early lead in his next start, the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) last April at Oaklawn, and finished third and faded to ninth in the Preakness, beaten 34 ¼ lengths, after racing just off the early pace.

“I think he’s one of those horses, California, he broke, he’s on the lead and he won,” Cox said. “He came here, he broke good, he’s on the lead and he won. I think he’s probably a need-the-lead horse. He probably couldn’t have got the lead yesterday, I don’t really think, with that Mucho in the race. But at the three-eighths pole, he was kind of packing it in.”

While Cox will regroup with Concert Tour, the trainer still has a deep roster of older two-turn older stakes types, including Oaklawn-based Plainsman and Caddo River for John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs.

Caddo River, who finished second in the Arkansas Derby after beating Concert Tour to the lead, is entered in Saturday’s seventh race, a 1 1/16-mile allowance. Caddo River crossed the finish line first in his comeback race, a Dec. 19 allowance at 1 mile, but was disqualified and placed second for interference near the wire.

Plainsman, a multiple Grade 3 winner, is scheduled to make his 2022 debut in the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 12. Plainsman finished a troubled third in his last start, the $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) Dec. 4 at Aqueduct.

The Fifth Season was Oaklawn’s first major 2022 prep for the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses April 23.

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