On a day of several big upsets in racing around the globe, Un Ojo provided one of the biggest by pulling a 75-1 shocker in the $1 million Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.
Although Un Ojo had finished a distant second in the Feb. 5 Withers (G3) at Aqueduct in his previous start, the race itself was generally judged a very slow Kentucky Derby (G1) prep. Thus, Un Ojo was sent off as the longest shot among a field of 11 in the 1 1/16-mile Rebel, which was contested over a track in the process of being downgraded from fast after absorbing rain in the lead-up to and during the race.
Un Ojo had broken tardily in the Withers before making up about a dozen lengths, but the New York-bred gelding showed much more speed in the Rebel under Ramon Vazquez. Hugging the rail throughout in a stalking position, Un Ojo was within a length of the lead as the field turned for home.
Urged on by Vazquez down the stretch, Un Ojo finally got going inside the sixteenth pole and wore down Ethereal Road by a half-length. Ethereal Road, a recent maiden winner who appeared on his way to victory before getting leg weary in the final yards, finished a nose in front of Barber Road, who made a late rally between the top two. The pacesetter, Kavod, finished 1 1/4 lengths behind in fourth.
Second choice Chasing Time finished fifth and was followed by 4-5 favorite Newgrange. The Southwest (G3) winner was in a perfect stalking position behind Kavod most of the way, but came under pressure between rivals on the far turn and never threatened in the final quarter-mile. Rounding out the order of finish were Dash Attack, Ben Diesel, Stellar Tap, Cairama, and Texas Red Hot.
Un Ojo covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.69 and paid $152.80. Earlier on Saturday, Emblem Road paid $229.20 in upsetting the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1).
Un Ojo secured 50 Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points for his Rebel win, virtually assuring his participation in the May 7 classic. Ethereal Road earned 20 points, while Barber Road increased his total from 8 to 18 points. Kavod boosted his total from two points to seven.
Owned by Cypress Creek Equine, Un Ojo is trained by Ricky Courville, who saddled the the son of Laoban to a maiden win and a fourth in the Jean Lafitte S., both at Delta Downs, in November. Tony Dutrow was the trainer of record for Un Ojo’s two appearances at Aqueduct. Prior to the Withers, Un Ojo finished second by a neck in a leg of the New York Stallion Series S. over seven furlongs on Dec. 18. Un Ojo’s record now stands at 6-2-2-0, $776,321.
Bred by Southern Equine Stables, Un Ojo was produced by the stakes-placed Risk a Chance, a daughter of A.P. Indy the the Grade 2-winning Seeking the Ante. Un Ojo’s third and fourth dam, respectively, were the Grade 1 winners Antespend, who reared Florida Derby (G1) winner Friends Lake, and Auspiciante.