September 25, 2022

Rated R Superstar pays $53.80 in Fifth Season upset; Concert Tour last

Rated R Superstar wins the Fifth Season Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

Saturday’s $150,000 Fifth Season S. at Oaklawn Park featured an eclectic cast of one-time prospects for Triple Crown trails past, led by Concert Tour in his four-year-old debut. But as the 3-2 favorite wilted early, it was the oldest horse in the race – nine-year-old comebacker Rated R Superstar – who produced the strongest finish to deny Mucho at 25.90-1.

Claimed by Danny R. Caldwell and trainer Federico Villafranco for $50,000 out of a win here last January, Rated R Superstar compiled a productive 2021. The Kodiak Kowboy gelding won twice, notably in the Aug. 20 Governor’s Cup at Remington Park, and placed four times, including a near-miss in Oaklawn’s Essex H. and a third to presumptive Horse of the Year Knicks Go in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker H. (G3).

Rated R Superstar was overlooked as he resumed from a four-month vacation. Bettors flocked to Concert Tour, however, off a much longer layoff. Unraced since fading to ninth in the Preakness (G1), last year’s Rebel (G2) hero was resurfacing for new trainer Brad Cox. Concert Tour took up a close stalking position on Saturday, but failed to maintain his spot and appeared beaten entering the far turn. Jockey Joel Rosario wrapped up on him down the lane as he trailed in last of nine.

Meanwhile, stretch-out sprinter Mucho was doing his level best to wire the one-mile test. The 7.70-1 shot broke smartly and grabbed the early lead, capitalizing on projected pacesetter Thomas Shelby’s less alert start on the rail. Mucho carved out splits of :23.33, :46.91, and 1:11.65. When the regrouping Thomas Shelby challenged, Mucho turned him back and set sail for home.

Rated R Superstar benefited from a well-judged ride by David Cabrera. Unhurried early, Rated R Superstar seized the opportunity to advance on a wide-open rail down the backstretch. The wily veteran tipped out for his stretch rally and outstayed Mucho by a neck in 1:37.16.

“The horse did all the work,” Caldwell told Oaklawn publicity. “We gave him a break and (trainer) Federico (Villafranco) did a great job bringing him back. David Cabrera gave him a perfect ride. He’s one of those hard-knocking horses that just knows his job.”

Caldwell added that the race shape figured to help Rated R Superstar.

“I just told Bret Calhoun, who was sitting at my table and who had just won the last, I said whatever this horse gives me is a bonus because he doesn’t owe me anything,” his owner said. “I knew going into this race he was feeling good and doing well. But, they’re only going a mile and we’ve got a lot speed in the race and it should set up for him. But, who knows off a break. You never know.”

“The pace went out early,” Cabrera said, “and to be honest, I just let him run his race the whole way. I rode him a couple of times before so it was great that I knew him. Down the lane, I got a kick that was perfect. I was a little bit worried that I wouldn’t get there because I was a little bit wide. He gave me all he had, so that’s all you can ask for.”

Mucho’s trainer, John Ortiz, was gutted by the finish.

“Because we drew so far wide, I thought we were going to be able to funnel our way into a stalking position because we were the ones that were going to cover the most ground,” Ortiz said. “When he took the lead, it did not surprise me and I told Flo (Florent Geroux) just let the horse do his thing. Don’t ever fight him. Don’t ask him. If he puts you up there, then you control the pace. He sure did that. I’m not surprised at all with the results. But gosh, you hate to lose one like that. He ran a winning race. To run second, it’s heartbreaking.”

Thomas Shelby never quit, but stayed on again to check in just a half-length off Mucho in third. Another 3 1/4 lengths adrift in fourth came Necker Island, followed by Silver Prospector, Snapper Sinclair, Atoka, Long Range Toddy, and Concert Tour.

Rosario cited the long absence when asked about Concert Tour’s performance.

“He hadn’t run for a little while,” Rosario said. “He was there for a little while and looked like he a lost a little focus the last part of the race. We’ll see how he comes back the next time.”

Rewarding his loyalists with a $53.80 windfall, Rated R Superstar boosted his bankroll to $1,271,014 from a record of 57-10-10-8. The chestnut has won or placed in 15 stakes, earning black-type in seven of his eight seasons of racing. Only his 2017 campaign lacks a stakes credit.

For original trainer Ken McPeek, Rated R Superstar placed in the 2015 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Iroquois (G3), scored his first stakes win in the 2016 Carry Back (G3), and added the 2018 Ben Ali (G3). He was dropped in for a tag later that fall at Churchill Downs, when trainer Cipriano Contreras claimed him for $62,500. Rated R Superstar repaid the investment at the 2019 Oaklawn meeting, moving forward from a third in the Razorback H. (G3) to pull a 14.60-1 upset in the Essex. He went winless in 2020, but still placed in a couple of stakes including the Cornhusker, and kept adding to his resume throughout 2021.

Rated R Superstar was bred by Thorndale Stable in Kentucky. His dam, the Gold Case mare Wicked Wish, is a half to Grade 3 scorer Wishful Tomcat and prolific New York-bred Uncle T Seven. This is the family of Grade 1 winners Speech and Papal Power, and further back, Silver Hawk.