Dash Attack came into last Saturday’s Southwest Stakes as one of the Kentucky Derby prospects to watch. He came in as the unbeaten, 3.40/1 second favorite for the Southwest.
He came out of it unscathed physically, according to trainer Kenny McPeek. As for his once-invincible aura? Not so much. Not after Dash Attack finished a distant fifth, 7 3/4 lengths back of victorious 3/2 favorite Newgrange.
McPeek said Dash Attack will remain on the Kentucky Derby trail. He currently sits ninth on the Derby points ladder with the 10 points he earned for his Smarty Jones victory last month.
Aside from California shipper Newgrange, who remained unbeaten himself, the difference between the Smarty Jones and the Southwest for Dash Attack was the fast track. His previous two victories came on sloppy tracks. That said, McPeek assumed full responsibility for Dash Attack’s Southwest stumble, one coming with his first sub-90 Equibase Speed Figure — a career-low 86.
McPeek wants this one back for Dash Attack
“I think between that racetrack being a little bit deep and cuppy, and we kind of had to adjust our work schedule, I think we left him short,” McPeek told Oaklawn Park’s Robert Yates. “He got tired in the race. He seemed to come back fine, but I wish I had done a little more with him in hindsight. But the night before, it was extremely cold and I don’t think they had much water on it (the track) and he didn’t handle it well.”
McPeek didn’t say where Dash Attack’s next Derby prep will be. He said the Munnings progeny will “definitely” be considered for Oaklawn Park’s next Derby prep, the Feb. 26 Grade 2 Rebel Stakes.
“We’re not ruling the Rebel out at all,” McPeek said. “We’re going to kind of regroup and put another plan together and hopefully, it unfolds a little better than the Southwest did.”
Barber Road remains, Vivar departs
That’s where you’ll next find Barber Road, who finished second in both the Smarty Jones and Southwest. Trainer John Ortiz said that’s his next destination.
While McPeek and Dash Attack regroup, Vivar and Brad Cox have resigned. Cox said Vivar is off the Derby trail after his 10th-place finish in the Southwest, 23 1/4 lengths behind Newgrange and 14 lengths behind ninth-place Costa Terra. That came after Vivar finished fifth in the Smarty Jones.
“We’re going to give him a break and freshen him up,” Cox said. “Don’t really think he’s a dirt horse. Kind of always thought he was more grass. We’ve given him the opportunity and he really didn’t answer the questions we were asking, so it’s time to back up and give him some time, and maybe point him for a grass campaign this summer.”