Caldwell Seeks Fifth Season Win with Rated R Superstar

January 12, 2022

Danny Caldwell’s first Oaklawn stakes victory came with a 9-year-old. Now, Oaklawn’s four-time leading owner bids for a second with another 9-year-old in late-running millionaire Rated R Superstar, who is scheduled to make his 2022 debut in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses at 1 mile Saturday at Oaklawn.

Caldwell won the 2017 Fifth Season with Domain’s Rap, who was making his 9-year-old debut after being claimed for just $10,000 in November 2015 at Remington Park. Caldwell claimed Rated R Superstar for $50,000 last January at Oaklawn and has been rewarded, again, by another member of the elderly equine set.

Rated R Superstar, in eight starts for Caldwell and trainer Federico Villafranco, has bankrolled $298,991. Caldwell recouped his investment when Rated R Superstar finished second in the $500,000 Essex Handicap for older horses last March at Oaklawn. The gelding surpassed $1 million in career earnings in the Essex, was eighth in $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses last April at Oaklawn, an allowance winner in May at Prairie Meadows and captured the $175,000 Governor’s Cup Stakes Aug. 20 at Remington Park, where Caldwell is the all-time leading owner.

“I’d been watching this horse for a long time,” Caldwell said Monday afternoon. “I liked him and I liked the way his running style was. Most horses that run at the end of the race, normally they take care of themselves. They’re not like sprinters. They go out there and go all out. He knows how to take care of himself. He had a couple of bad races there at Turfway Park, where he didn’t hit the board. I thought, ‘You know, I’m just going to throw those two races out because that’s a Poly track.’ He just didn’t like it. I think he had run in a Grade 2 before that at Keeneland and he only got beat three lengths, I think. I thought I would give him a shot for $50,000. We love older horses. The best horse I’ve ever had is Domain’s Rap and he made me more than a half-million dollars, most of it as a 9-year-old.”

After winning the Fifth Season, then worth $125,000, Domain’s Rap made his final four career starts later in the 2017 Oaklawn meeting. He won a $76,000 allowance race, was third to eventual 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses, second to eventual 2017 Met Mile winner Mor Spirit in the $250,000 Essex Handicap for older horses and second to Inside Straight in the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses. Inside Straight finished second to Domain’s Rap in the allowance race. Domain’s Rap retired with $880,850 in earnings during a 64-race career.

Domain’s Rap spent most of his career in the allowance and stakes ranks in Illinois before tumbling down the class ladder and being claimed, but Rated R Superstar began his racing career as a promising Triple Crown prospect for nationally prominent trainer Kenny McPeek.

Rated R Superstar, in 2015, finished second in the $150,000 Iroquois Stakes (G3) for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs, then third in the $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity Stakes (G1) for 2-year-olds at Keeneland. Breeders’ Futurity runner-up Exaggerator won the Preakness in 2016. Rated R Superstar became a multiple Grade 3 winner for McPeek, earning $518,367 in 30 starts before being claimed by trainer Cipriano Contreras for $62,500 in November 2018 at Churchill Downs.

In 18 starts for Contreras, Rated R Superstar earned $363,656. The gelding ran third in the 2019 Razorback before winning the Essex, then worth $350,00, in his next start.

“That’s amazing,” Caldwell said, referring to Rated R Superstar’s money-making skills. “He’s just a professional. He’s professional racehorse is what he is. He knows his job, he loves his job, he loves to go out there and perform. I wish I had a barn full of horses like him.”

Rated R Superstar hasn’t started since finishing second in a Sept. 11 allowance race at Remington Park. Caldwell said the gelding came out of the race with a minor splint bone issue, necessitating a short break from training. Rated R Superstar has five published workouts since Dec. 2, the last two coming at Oaklawn.
“We trained him on the wheel and just kind of brought him back slow,” Caldwell said. “He’s come back really feeling good. We’re hoping to have a good 9-year-old year with him.”

A son of 2008 Oaklawn allowance winner and 2009 champion sprinter Kodiak Kowboy, Rated R Superstar has a 9-10-8 record from 56 lifetime starts and earnings of $1,181,014. He has won from 6 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. Rated R Superstars is seeking his fifth career stakes victory in the Fifth Season, which has attracted two other millionaires in Snapper Sinclair for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and Long Range Toddy (Dallas Stewart). Also entered is Concert Tour, who won the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds last March at Oaklawn for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. The colt, unraced since the Preakness last May, is now with trainer Brad Cox.
“It’s tough,” said Caldwell, Oaklawn’s leading owner in 2014-2017. “It’s not going to be easy.”

The projected nine-horse Fifth Season field from the rail out: Thomas Shelby, David Cohen to ride, 122 pounds, 5-1 on the morning line; Rated R Superstar, David Cabrera, 122, 8-1; Snapper Sinclair, Ramon Vazquez, 122, 6-1; Necker Island, Francisco Arrieta, 122, 9-2; Concert Tour, Joel Rosario, 122, 5-2; Atoka, Luis Contreras, 122, 15-1; Long Range Toddy, Jon Court, 115, 10-1; Silver Prospector, Ricardo Santana Jr., 115, 10-1; and Mucho, Florent Geroux, 122, 7-2.

Probable post time for the Fifth Season, which goes as the eighth of nine races, is 3:46 p.m. (Central). First post Saturday is 12:30 p.m.

Coaching Coach

The race didn’t begin the way Brad Cox envisioned, but it still ended in yet another victory for the trainer in a two-turn stakes race for older fillies and mares at Oaklawn.
Favored Coach ($5.20) gave Cox his second consecutive victory in the $150,000 Pippin, splashing home by three lengths Saturday under Ricardo Santana Jr.
“It didn’t really go as we thought, based off the paper,” said Cox, who is Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2021-2022. “You can look at a race, I guess, as a long as you want and when the gates come open, it unfolds a little bit different than expected.”

Instead of a stalking trip, Coach made the lead from the rail under Santana, who then guided the filly to the three-path down the backstretch. Miss Bigly, on the inside, engaged Coach at the half-mile pole and they were on even terms until the favorite began to edge away turning for home. The final time over a sloppy track was 1:37.58.
Cox praised Santana for being aggressive when Coach wasn’t challenged early in the race.

“I never really give too many instructions, but I just thought based on paper there would be a little more speed and maybe we could be tracking a few,” Cox said. “That’s why they get paid what they do. Once the gates open, it’s in their hands. Obviously, it worked out. It’s good when you can have a horse that can sit off the lead or you’ve got enough horse to get the early lead and get the position. It really gives you another dimension. So, it was, I thought, really, her best race today, to be honest, from a visual standpoint. We’ll see how the numbers come back.”

Coach received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 91 – a career high – following her second consecutive victory and fifth and 10 starts overall. The 4-year-old daughter of Commissioner, who was coming off a two-length off-the-pace allowance victory Dec. 17 at Oaklawn, has earned $387,840 for owner Rick Kueber (Kueber Racing).
Coach began her career with three consecutive victories, including the $98,000 Rags to Riches Stakes in October 2020 at Churchill Downs. Coach went through Oaklawn’s Kentucky Oaks points series last year, finishing second in the $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes, fifth in the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) and third in the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3). Her allowance victory last month snapped a five-race losing streak.

Cox said Coach “probably” will resurface in the $250,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 5 at Oaklawn, a race the trainer won in 2021 with two-time Eclipse Award winner Monomoy Girl. Cox said late last month that multiple stakes winner Matera is targeting the Bayakoa for her 2022 debut.

In addition to the Pippin and Bayakoa, Cox won the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares last year at Oaklawn with Shedaresthedevil before finishing second, beaten a nose, in the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) with Monomoy Girl. The Azeri is the final major local prep for the Apple Blossom, which is the major spring objective for Shedaresthedevil, a multiple Grade 1 winner for co-owner Staton Flurry of Hot Springs.

The Azeri and Apple Blossom are also 1 1/16-mile races.

Finish Lines

Zazzy Zazzy Dazzle’s victory in last Saturday’s first race pulled Ingrid Mason within two of tying Lynn Chleborad as the winningest female trainer in Oaklawn history. Mason has three victories at the 2021-2022 meeting and 124 in her Oaklawn career. Chleboard has 126 career Oaklawn victories. … Alex Canchari recorded his 200th career Oaklawn victory in last Sunday’s fifth race aboard Ojitos ($182.20) for trainer Miguel Angel Silva. It was the 983rd victory overall for Canchari, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. … Through last Sunday, Day 15 of the scheduled 66-day meeting, 138 claims had totaled $3,052,750.

Oaklawn Press Release

Photo: Rated R Superstar (Oaklawn Photo)

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