'The old' My Boy Jack's said to be back for Kentucky Turf Cup

By Jennie Rees/Ellis Park
September 07, 2019 08:16am
'The old' My Boy Jack's said to be back for Kentucky Turf Cup
Photo: Courtesy of Keeneland
When California trainer Keith Desormeaux sent a second string to Kentucky this year, the thing he was looking for with My Boy Jack was long races on dirt or turf. So Kentucky Downs' $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, just 130 miles down the road from Desormeaux’s Churchill Downs operation, has been on the wishlist for some time.

My Boy Jack tuned up for the 1 1/2-mile Kentucky Turf Cup in Ellis Park’s 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Downs Preview prep. That day My Boy Jack was one of the few horses to close strongly, finishing third while only a neck behind triumphant Factor This and a head behind runner-up Botswana. Those horses also are running in Kentucky Downs’ most lucrative race.

The Ellis race was James Graham’s first on aboard My Boy Jack, who all last year was ridden by Kent Desormeaux, the trainer’s Hall of Fame brother.

“He’s one that he usually breaks really well, but then he just gets into his own little groove back there,” Julie Clark, who oversees Desormeaux’s Kentucky operation, said of My Boy Jack. “Sometimes he’s closer to the pace, sometimes he’s far off. It’s just wherever he’s comfortable. The race at Ellis, James and I had talked about the horse quite a bit and he watched all the replays.

"It seemed like the horse would wait until Kent, who rode him the majority of times, would ask him to move. He set James up a little bit. He took himself (to move) going around the turn, and James said he held him just a little bit, because that wasn’t his normal M.O., he could definitely see when Kent asked him to go and he thought maybe it was a little early.

“But we were all thrilled, that the old Jack was back, showing that late turn of foot, showing some enthusiasm. James rode up and said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ For what? That was awesome. He really wasn’t beaten by that much. James felt if he’d just let him do his thing, he would have had it. But we’re not second-guessing. We were just happy with that performance. If he moves forward from that, I think he has a real shot. He has been training really well and seems like a happier horse now.

“He gets into his comfortable, little groove. If you try to poke at him or try to get him to where you think he needs to be, he just doesn’t respond to that. He’s a funny horse. He’s kind of like, ‘I’ve got this.’”

My Boy Jack is seeking his first stakes victory since he won Keeneland’s Grade 3 Lexington in April of 2018. The colt ran in that race to try to get enough qualifying points to make the Kentucky Derby field after narrowly losing the Louisiana Derby. He made the Derby, rallying late and eight-wide to finish fifth — seven lengths behind Triple Crown winner Justify. Two months later, My Boy Jack ran back in the Belmont Derby on grass, not running well and coming out with an ankle chip. He didn’t resume racing until May.

“He got shut off a lot in the Derby, and he came back from that race a little bit cut up and banged around,” Clark said. “We just felt that he had such a strong campaign that if you’re going to give him time off, give him enough to bring him back really fresh.”

She said of My Boy Jack’s first two races of the year, both 10-length defeats, “I think he just needed a little time to get mentally back in the game and fitness after that much time off. Keith isn’t one to ‘bullet’ work in the mornings. He doesn’t like to stress them.”

2019 Kentucky Turf Cup (G3)

 

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