In an explosive last-to-first stretch run past the 14-horse field, Samuel Henderson's Suddenbreakingnews earned 10 points toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby in Monday's Grade 3 Southwest Stakes. The sophomore son of covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.14 over an Oaklawn Park surface rated good, garnering the winner's share of the $500,000 purse.
Ridden by Luis Quinonez, Suddenbreakingnews was last out of the gate and down the backstretch, not passing other runners until he was well into the far turn. Siding Spring was out for the early lead, stretching out to two lengths in front of American Dubai to set fractions of :23.10 and :47.06. Moving into the turn, American Dubai closed the gap to a half-length as Whitmore and Discreetness began rolling from the back of the back.
“This horse ran such a nice race today,” said Quinonez. “We stayed behind everyone, which helped my horse relax and it kept us out of trouble, I could see ahead of us that there were some horses in front of us that were getting in trouble. I think it helped my horse keeping him relaxed. I let him run his race. When he started making a move I tried inside but there was nothing there. I moved him outside and with his long stride he started picking it up quick. I told myself down the lane, ‘We got this.'”
Still near the rear at the head of the lane, Suddenbreakingnews didn't even enter the picture until there was a sixteenth of a mile left to run, at which point Whitmore had established a clear lead over American Dubai. With giant strides, Suddenbreakingnews strode past those rivals in the center of the track, winning by 2 3/4 lengths for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel. Whitmore was second after Mike Smith had trouble in the stretch, and American Dubai held on for third. Favored Collected was fourth.
“There were concerns about this being his first start and the post position (#13),” said Von Hemel. “Luis (Quinonez) knew he had to drop back to save ground and it just turned out he was trailing the field. That's the good thing about Luis. Even when you have a plan that doesn't work out, he has the experience to still get it done. I could tell at the eighth pole that he was going to get there. It's very exciting. More than likely, we'll look at the Rebel (Stakes March 19) next.”
Bred in Kentucky by Branch Equine, Suddenbreakingnews is out of a daughter of Afleet Alex. A $72,000 yearling at the Keeneland September Sale, the Southwest was his first graded stakes victory following a close second in the Remington Springboard Mile. The Von Hemel trainee has never finished worse than second in his six-race career, with three wins. His bankroll now stands at just over $440,000.
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