Frequent foes earlier this year on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail at Oaklawn Park, Petrov and Uncontested subsequently benefited by shortening up, and they now meet again in the $200,000 Steel Valley Sprint over six furlongs at Mahoning Valley Monday.
Although Uncontested dominated Petrov by 5 1/2 lengths when the pair served up the exacta in a sloppy Smarty Jones back in January, Petrov fared relatively better on the step up to 1 1/16 miles in their next two. In the Southwest (G3), Petrov was runner-up again, while Uncontested faded to sixth, and it was a similar story in the Rebel (G2) as Petrov was fourth and Uncontested eighth.
Those creditable efforts earned Petrov a shot at the Arkansas Derby (G1), but he tired to ninth after chasing the pace. Trainer Ron Moquett then freshened him up and turned him back in trip for the seven-furlong Woody Stephens (G2) on Belmont Day, resulting in a belatedly rallying fourth. Given another two-turn opportunity in the Iowa Derby (G3), Petrov retreated to fifth, and he’s stuck to sprinting ever since. A four-length winner of a Saratoga allowance, the Flatter colt was third in the Gallant Bob (G3) and most recently victorious in a 6 1/2-furlong Keeneland allowance. Petrov, installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite with a returning Jose Ortiz, also tops the Steel Valley Sprint field in BRIS Prime Power – but not by much over Uncontested (138.9 to 138.1).
Uncontested, who was cross-entered to Saturday’s Bet on Sunshine versus older horses, scratched in favor of remaining with fellow sophomores. Campaigned exclusively at one turn since the Rebel, the Wayne Catalano pupil was third in Churchill Downs’ Pat Day Mile (G3) and gave way to seventh in Arlington’s Bruce D. Memorial, also at a mile. Uncontested accordingly shortened up to six furlongs and rolled in a Churchill allowance. Trying his elders in the Phoenix (G2), the son of Tiz Wonderful received an early bump that arguably took him out of his speedy game, and he was beaten only 2 1/2 lengths in sixth. The co-highweight here at 124 pounds, Uncontested concedes five pounds to Petrov, but may be the purer six-furlong type between the two. And the 5-1 chance teams up with Channing Hill for the first time since Oaklawn.
Their most intriguing opponent is the Jason Servis-trained Lasting Legacy, unbeaten from two starts by a combined margin of 8 1/4 lengths. After romping at Monmouth Park in his career debut July 21, the Gary and Mary West colorbearer resurfaced with a convincing allowance tally at Belmont Park October 13. The Tapizar half-brother to Grade 2 winner Miss Ella brings Manny Franco along for this first stakes sortie.
Wellabled figures to add to the fast early pace in his return from a year-long layoff. Last year’s Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) and Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile hero ended 2016 with a pair of losses, winding up 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and a well-beaten fourth of five in the Swynford at Woodbine. Having raced only on turf or synthetic so far, the Shackleford colt has been gearing up over the dirt at Hawthorne for Larry Rivelli.
Other contenders include Woodbine shipper Singandcryindubai, who lures Luis Contreras; Grumpelstiltskin, fresh off conquering a West Virginia-bred stakes at Charles Town; recent ThistleDown allowance scorer Heartwood, a Tapit colt still aiming to live up to his pedigree; Ohio-bred hero Cake Pop, who’s been plying his trade over much further; Michigan-bred celebrity Shadow Tracer, third to Uncontested and Petrov in his last pair; and Black Salt, likewise taking a class hike after two straight allowance scores over Indiana-breds.
One race earlier on the card, Maryland star Crabcakes invades for the $75,000 Mahoning Distaff, also at six furlongs. Second in her previous foray here for the April 15 Austintown Filly Sprint, Crabcakes returns riding a three-race winning streak capped by the Maryland Million Distaff. Godolphin’s Moiety and Oklahoma-bred Lake Pontchatrain both receive class relief after finishing up the track in the Chilukki (G2), while New York-bred stakes winner Swing and Sway and Indiana-bred stakes veteran Whistle Stop are shopping for open company black-type. Renaissance Rosie deserves the stakes opportunity after racking up five straight, and Luckyallmylife was third in last year’s running at odds of 21-1.