The last time we saw Concert Tour on the racing stage, it was a performance to forget. Consider his 2021 Preakness Stakes performance the equivalent of being booed off the stage.
Now, it’s a case of new year, new trainer, new start. That’s what awaits the 4-year-old Street Sense colt on his return to Oaklawn Park for Saturday’s Fifth Season Stakes. The one-mile Fifth Season’s field punches above its ungraded status. Its nine-horse field contains three millionaires, including Rated R Superstar, Snapper Sinclair, and Long Range Toddy.
There’s also an Oaklawn graded stakes winner in Silver Prospector. He won the 2020 Grade 3 Southwest Stakes. And there’s Thomas Shelby, a gelding who went 7-for-12 last year. He comes in off the field’s best last-out Beyer Speed Figure: a 97 from his runner-up finish in last month’s Tinsel Stakes.
None of that aforementioned quintet comes into the Fifth Season as the morning-line favorite. That would be 5/2 Concert Tour, who returns to the fray for the first time since finishing a distant ninth in last spring’s Preakness. That loss as the 3.70/1 third-favorite, came by 34 1/2 lengths.
Concert Tour bombed his Preakness
It also came with a glacial 55 Equibase Speed Figure that was 47 points behind the previous 102 he posted in his third-place Arkansas Derby finish.
Ben Glass, the racing manager for owners Gary and Mary West, told the Daily Racing Form that Concert Tour suffered an ankle chip during the Preakness. After Dr. Larry Bramlage removed it, the Wests transferred Concert Tour from Bob Baffert’s California barn to Brad Cox’s Midwest base.
This is Concert Tour’s first start for Cox, who developed a working relationship with the Wests, one of the more prominent — and passionate — breeder/owners on the West Coast.
Cox develops a rare relationship
“I don’t have a clue how many horses they’ve sent me,” Cox told Oaklawn Park. “I can’t even keep track. We have a lot. They’re great to work with.”
Cox inherited a colt who won his first three races. Two of those were Grade 2s: last February’s San Vicente at Santa Anita in only his second outing, and the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn last March. That latter victory, by 4 1/4 lengths as the 1.70/1 favorite, came against a field featuring Keepmeinmind, Caddo River, Hozier, and Get Her Number who were all stakes winners or stakes-placed.
As the 3/10 favorite, Concert Tour finished third to 12.20/1 upset-springer Super Stock in the Arkansas Derby. He uncharacteristically surrendered the lead in deep stretch, then got passed by Caddo River at the wire.
Joel Rosario back in the irons
That prompted Baffert to pull Concert Tour from the Derby and wheel him back for the Preakness two weeks later.
For Saturday’s trip, Cox will remove the blinkers and add Lasix for the first time since Concert Tour’s debut victory last January. He’ll also reunite Concert Tour with Joel Rosario, who rode him in his four previous outings before Mike Smith took the reins for the Preakness.
“I like him a lot. He’s a talented horse,” Cox said. “I think if he runs the way he trains, we’ll be in good shape.”