By Alan Carasso
The GI Arkansas Derby has been won over the last 20-plus years by some short-odds favorites, like future GI Kentucky Derby winners Smarty Jones (Elusive Quality, even-money in 2004) and American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile, 1-10 in 2015) and future Classic winners such as Curlin (Smart Strike, 4-5 in 2007) and Afleet Alex (Northern Afleet, 12-5 in 2005).
But the nine-furlong prep has tossed up its fair share of less-predictable winners, including Sir Cherokee (55-1 in 2003), Line of David (Lion Heart, 17-1 in 2010), Archarcharch (Arch, 25-1 in 2011), Danza (Street Boss, 41-1 in 2014) and the notorious Valhol (Diazo, 30-1 prior to being disqualified in 1999).
The betting public had Saturday's renewal as a match race between the undefeated 'TDN Rising Star' Concert Tour (Street Sense), so impressive in winning the GII Rebel S. last time, and fellow 'Rising Star' Caddo River (Hard Spun), well-beaten in the Rebel, but prior to that, the 10 1/4-length winner of the Jan. 22 Smarty Jones S. However, the longshot bug bit again, as the far less-heralded Super Stock (Dialed In) allowed those two to duel themselves into submission and picked up the pieces late at a bit more than 12-1 to give trainer Steve Asmussen a record-tying fifth win in the race.
It was an upset bigger than the pari-mutuel prices might indicate.
As anticipated, Caddo River, whom trainer Brad Cox promised would be ridden more aggressively than he was in the Rebel, kicked through inside and matched motors under the wire for the first time with Concert Tour before Joel Rosario took just a bit of a tug and asked the Gary and Mary West colorbearer to settle, albeit right off Caddo River's flank. The pace was very much on–the opening quarter was in a sharp :22.62–and Ricardo Santana, Jr. made best use of the one hole to land in third for the run around the turn, tracking the dueling pacesetters under a long hold.
Caddo River continued to bowl along up front through a half in a fast-enough :46.51, tugging Florent Geroux out of the saddle passing the five-furlong marker, but came back to his rider and relaxed better as they raced into the final 3 1/2 furlongs. The Shortleaf runner was holding Concert Tour gamely at bay approaching the stretch, but Santana, Jr. was feeling for Super Stock and the duo began to zero in on the front-runners at the head of the stretch. It looked for a few strides that Super Stock might try to come between the two favorites, but he was instead pulled off Concert Tour's heels at the furlong grounds, raced to the front with 100 yards to race and edged clear. Caddo River fought on gamely at the rail to hold second ahead of Concert Tour.
Asmussen's son Keith broke Super Stock's maiden in the Texas Thoroughbred Futurity at Lone Star last August before stepping up steeply in class to be third in the GIII Iroquois S. at Churchill Sept. 5. An even third behind undefeated champion Essential Quality (Tapit) in the GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland the following month, he was a battling runner-up to Saturday's GIII Stonestreet Lexington S. hero King Fury (Curlin) in the Oct. 25 Street Sense S. before calling it a season. Though never a danger to Concert Tour and his stablemate Hozier (Pioneerof the Nile) in the Rebel, it was a race he was certain to need and his even fourth-place effort set him up perfectly for his upset bid Saturday.
“[Tactically it set up] perfectly,” said Asmussen, whose father Keith is the colt's part-owner. “We wanted to use his post position. I thought he used his post position into the first turn extremely well. My confidence level was he was going to run really good. I've been in races like that, that you have no control over how good or bad somebody else runs. But I felt like that he was going to represent extremely well.”
Super Stock is the second Grade I winner and sixth graded for Darby Dan's Dialed In, whose son Get Her Number came with a run from last to finish a little more than three lengths behind Super Stock in fourth. He is the first Grade I winner and second graded winner produced by a daughter of Closing Argument, who famously went within a zop of causing a major upset of his own in the 2005 Kentucky Derby, going down by a half-length to Giacomo (Holy Bull) at 71-1. Barren to He's Had Enough for 2019, Super Girlie produced a colt by Mendelssohn last year.
ARKANSAS DERBY-GI, $1,000,000, Oaklawn, 4-10, 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:50.92, ft.
1–SUPER STOCK, 122, c, 3, by Dialed In
1st Dam: Super Girlie, by Closing Argument
2nd Dam: Beafleet, by Afleet
3rd Dam: Leave It Be, by Lawmaker
1ST GRADED STAKES WIN, 1ST GRADE I WIN. ($70,000 Ylg '19
KEESEP). O-Woolsey, Erv and Asmussen, Keith; B-Pedro
Gonzalez & P.J. Gonzalez (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen;
J-Ricardo Santana, Jr.. $600,000. Lifetime Record: 8-2-2-2,
$804,762. *1/2 to Boujie Girl (Flashback), GISP, $167,897.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick
Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*.
2–Caddo River, 122, c, 3, Hard Spun–Pangburn, by Congrats.
O/B-Shortleaf Stable (KY); T-Brad H. Cox. $200,000. 'TDN Rising Star'
3–Concert Tour, 122, c, 3, Street Sense–Purse Strings, by Tapit.
O-Gary & Mary West; B-Gary & Mary West Stables Inc. (KY);
T-Bob Baffert. $100,000. 'TDN Rising Star'
Margins: 2HF, HD, HF. Odds: 12.20, 3.40, 0.30.
Also Ran: Get Her Number, Last Samurai, Hozier. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.