Now with Cox, Concert Tour looks to prove himself at Oaklawn

Now with Cox, Concert Tour looks to prove himself at Oaklawn
Photo: Ted McClenning/Eclipse Sportswire

Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox and nationally prominent owners Gary and Mary West were opponents on Oaklawn’s 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby. But several months after the meeting ended in May, they began collaborating and already have two victories together this season in Hot Springs.

“I don’t have a clue how many horses they’ve sent me,” said Cox, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2021-2022. “I can’t even keep track. We have a lot. They’re great to work with.”

Perhaps the most intriguing prospect Cox received from the Wests following the 2021 Oaklawn meeting, Concert Tour, was among the biggest names during the 2021 Oaklawn meeting.

Then with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, Concert Tour was a flashy winner of the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds last March – the Cox-trained Caddo River was fifth – before his unbeaten record and Kentucky Derby hopes crashed with a weakening third-place finish in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) in April. Caddo River was second in the Arkansas Derby.

Concert Tour, who is unraced since a ninth-place finish in last May’s Preakness, makes his first start for Cox in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses Saturday at Oaklawn. The 1-mile Fifth Season has drawn a strong field of nine, including three millionaires (Rated R Superstar, Snapper Sinclair and Long Range Toddy), another Oaklawn stakes winner (Silver Prospector) and Mucho, who will be making his two-turn debut.

Probable post time for the Fifth Season, which goes as the eighth of nine races, is 4:46 p.m. EST. First post Saturday is 1:30 p.m.

Concert Tour, the 5-2 program favorite, has nine published workouts since Nov. 14 in advance of his 4-year-old debut. Concert Tour was entered in the $75,000 Woodchopper Stakes Dec. 27 at Fair Grounds, but scratched after the race didn’t come off the grass. A forward factor early in his first five career starts, Concert Tour’s return to Oaklawn will mark his first start without blinkers. He also adds Lasix for the first time since his debut last January at Santa Anita.

“I like him a lot,” Cox said. “He’s a talented horse. I think if he runs the way he trains, we’ll be in good shape.”

Mucho came from just off the pace to capture an allowance sprint Dec. 18 at Oaklawn for trainer John Ortiz and owners WSS Racing (William Simon) and 4 G Racing (Brent and Sharilyn Gasaway). Mucho has bankrolled $686,729 in a 29-race career, but the 6-year-old son of 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame has never raced around two turns. Ortiz, on behalf of WSS and 4 G, claimed Mucho for $80,000 in November 2020 at Churchill Downs.

“To me, I don’t think distance is going to be an issue,” Ortiz said. “The only variable that we have here is going to be the two turns. Will he sprint out and run off or will he sprint out and be able to rate and either dictate the speed or just sit off the pace and use his sprint ability for the finish?”

Snapper Sinclair seeks his first career stakes victory on dirt after finishing second, beaten a neck in the 2020 Fifth Season, and finishing fifth in the 2019 Fifth Season for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and co-owner Jeff Bloom (Bloom Racing). Snapper Sinclair finished fifth in his last start, the $100,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes Dec. 18 at Turfway Park. Turfway has a synthetic surface.

“He had come out of the Breeders’ Cup in such great shape and we didn’t really have a whole of options with him and he had yet to run on a synthetic track,” Bloom said. “We just figured, ‘What the heck? Let’s give it a try.’ It was one of his extremely rare, sort of flat performances, so we just kind of drawn a line through that one and refocus on the coming year.”

The speedy Thomas Shelby cuts back to a mile after finishing a game second behind heralded stablemate Lone Rock in the inaugural $200,000 Tinsel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles Dec. 18 at Oaklawn for trainer Robertino Diodoro.

“I think it’s the best race he’s run,” Diodoro said.

Thomas Shelby won seven races in 2021, including two last spring at Oaklawn, after being privately purchased by Diodoro’s major client, four-time local leading owner M and M Racing (Mike and Mickala Sisk).

Silver Prospector, another Asmussen trainee, is seeking his first stakes victory since the $750,000 Southwest (G3) for 3-year-olds in 2020 at Oaklawn. Necker Island ran ninth in the rescheduled 2020 Kentucky Derby and returns to a route after finishing fourth in the $150,000 Thanksgiving Classic Stakes Nov. 25 at Fair Grounds for 2015 Oaklawn training champion Chris Hartman.

The Fifth Season is a major stepping stone toward the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses April 23. The Asmussen-trained Silver State won the Fifth Season and Oaklawn Handicap in 2021.

2022 Fifth Season (LS)

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...