(Awesome Again x Tizamazing, by Cee’s Tizzy)
- Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas (Optimizer, Gulch, Charismatic)
- Jockey: Gary Stevens (First Derby since 2003 6th place with Buddy Gil)
- Owned by: Calumet Farm
- Record: 9:2-1-1
- Earnings: $383,500
- Best speed figures: 95 Beyer, 110 Equibase
Background: A member of my watch list since his CashCall (I) race, Oxbow lit up the board and hopes for a resurgence of classic D. Wayne Lukas and Calumet victory passes upon winning the Lecomte (III) earlier this year. Given a harsh blow of bad luck time after time with repeatedly bad outer posts in his prep races, Oxbow is doing as he has done all year— just hanging in there to make the Derby gate.
Prep Schedule: It took him 4 tries to do it, but Oxbow broke his maiden in a 7-furlong event at none other than Churchill Downs as a two-year-old, then shipped out west to run a decent 4th in the CashCall (I) on polytrack. Bouncing back in 4 weeks’ time, he wired the Lecomte (III) going 1 1/16 miles, winning by an impressive 11 1/4 lengths. Assigned the outside 10 stall, he ran a wide but determined 4th next out in the messy Risen Star (II), losing by a half-length. Next, he ran an unexpected second-fiddle to stablemate Will Take Charge, who nipped him at the wire after Oxbow gained the lead in the stretch of the 1 1/16 mile race. In his final prep in the 9-furlong Arkansas Derby (I) and first time under Gary Stevens, he ran at the back of the tightly-knit group and made steady progress late to be 5th, losing by 5 1/4 lengths.
Pedigree: As I detailed in a prior post, Oxbow has some big shoes to fill that he may not start growing into right away. By Breeders’ Cup Classic winner (and sire of one) Awesome Again, he is automatically advantaged to get the 10-furlong distance, and even more so being out of a full sister to two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow. The Awesome Again and Tiznow families have spawned many G1 winners at 9 furlongs and beyond, and when crossed, have produced names like the unforgettable Paynter, who flashed extreme ability at the classic distance. Inbreeding-wise, Oxbow carries 3 traces up close to Northern Dancer.
Estimated TrueNicks Rating: A++ Variant 33.70
Running Style: Midpack, off-the-pace
Pros: A horse who sticks up front and fights it out at the end, Oxbow has been looking good in his recent works and should keep on making progress while others regress at 10 furlongs.
Cons: He appeared to regress in the Arkansas Derby (I) last out, and he has yet to have a more than a month-long break between races since he first started running.
Final Word: Oxbow was a horse full of potential at the beginning of the year, and while he still has something to offer, I think he has more than completed his form cycle. Add to this, most Awesome Agains do not really hit their best stride until later on (Game On Dude missed the Derby and was 4th in the Belmont, Paynter made the Belmont, Ghostzapper didn’t make a stakes start until the King’s Bishop). Watch for him later, not now.