Kenny McPeek's Mystik Dan Upends Oaklawn's Southwest

Mystik Dan | Coady/Sammantha Pagels

One of four Kentucky Derby preps run Saturday, the $800,000 GIII Southwest S. at Oaklawn Park was the richest. It also promised to be the most wide-open betting contest and it didn't disappoint as a mud-splattered 11-1 MYSTIK DAN (c, 3, Goldencents–Ma'am, by Colonel John) pulled the upset for trainer Kenny McPeek. Last fall's Ed Brown S. winner Just Steel (Justify) got up for second while GIII Street Sense S. winner Liberal Arts (Arrogate) secured third. The Southwest offers points on a 20-10-6-4-2 scale for the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Out from the 10 post in the mud, Mystik Dan broke sharply only to angle over to the rail and settle midpack under Brian Hernandez, Jr. Otto the Conqueror (Street Sense), winner of the Springboard Mile S. in December, set a :23.56 and :47.95 pace up front with his ears pricked while previously undefeated race favorite and 'TDN Rising Star' Carbone (Mitole) pressured him from the outside. Meanwhile, Mystik Dan bided his time on the rail, with Hernandez carefully concealing the power about to be unleashed. Just Steel, keen early in fourth, collared Otto the Conqueror from the outside off the turn and looked to be running easily while Mystik Dan, so close to the rail he could have scraped paint, found a seam and burst through. The two spent the briefest of moments on even terms before Mystik Dan thumbed his nose at the competition, simply forgetting to stop as he looked stronger with every stride and sailed home eight lengths to the good after being geared down late. It was a visually impressive performance as Just Steel held for second, a neck over a closing Liberal Arts, who was nine lengths clear of the rest.

An open-daylight maiden sprint winner at Churchill in November, Mystik Dan brought a field-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure into the Southwest. Last seen finishing fifth behind Catching Freedom (Constitution) in Oaklawn's Smarty Jones S. on New Year's Day at his first try at the Southwest distance, he had faded in the stretch that day after pressing the pace.

McPeek and Hernandez also teamed up to win Oaklawn's Kentucky Oaks points race on Saturday–the $250,000 Martha Washington S.–with longshot Band of Gold (Preservationist). The pair of victories marked the first wins by each of the veterans in both of the races.

Well clear in the stretch | Coady/Robi Heffington

Pedigree Notes:

A homebred for the team of Lance Gasaway, Daniel Hamby, and 4G Racing LLC, Mystik Dan is out of a Colonel John mare bred by the late Lucy Bassett and originally trained by McPeek. Ma'am, out of a full-sister to GI Hollywood Futurity and GII Lane's End Breeders' Futurity winner Siphonic (Siphon {Brz}), also hails from the same family as GISW Laragh (Tapit), MGSW and sire Summer Front (War Front), and MGSW & GISP Dixie Dot Com (Dixie Brass). Ma'am has a 2-year-old Unified filly named Yes Ma'am and a yearling Knicks Go filly named Ford's Ma'am for the same team. She was bred to Wells Bayou for 2024.

Two-time GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner and Spendthrift sire Goldencents has 27 black-type winners worldwide. Mystik Dan is his seventh graded winner while also being the 10th black-type winner out of a daughter of Colonel John. The latter was last reported to be standing in Korea.

 

Saturday, Oaklawn
SOUTHWEST S.-GIII, $800,000, Oaklawn, 2-3, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:43.67, my.
1–MYSTIK DAN, 118, c, 3, by Goldencents
                1st Dam: Ma'am, by Colonel John
                2nd Dam: Lady Siphonica, by Siphon (Brz)
                3rd Dam: Cherokee Crossing, by Cherokee Colony
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. O/B-Lance
Gasaway, Daniel Hamby & 4G Racing LLC (KY); T-Kenneth G.
McPeek; J-Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. $408,000. Lifetime
Record: 5-2-1-0, $510,110. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple
Plus* Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for
the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Just Steel, 117, c, 3, Justify–Irish Lights (Aus), by Fastnet Rock
(Aus). 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($500,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP).
O-BC Stables, LLC; B-Summerhill Farm (KY); T-D. Wayne Lukas.
$136,000.
3–Liberal Arts, 119, c, 3, Arrogate–Ismene, by Tribal Rule.
O/B-Stephen Ferraro & Evan Ferraro (KY); T-Robert Medina.
$68,000.
Margins: 8, NK, 9. Odds: 11.40, 10.30, 4.90.
Also Ran: Awesome Road, Common Defense, Otto the Conqueror, Carbone, Linebacker, Charleston, Magic Grant, Wynstock. Scratched: Maycocks Bay.
Click for the Equibase.com chart and the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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