Uncontested ran to his name in Monday’s Smarty Jones, dominating the one-mile event over a sloppy track at Oaklawn Park, and kudos to the Wayne Catalano-trained colt for a visually-impressive performance.
The dark bay received a solid 97 BRIS Speed rating for the 5 ¼-length victory in the Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifier, a significant improvement upon the 87 figure he earned finishing fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) previously, but unopposed wire-to-wire wins on wet tracks can be difficult to gauge.
Uncontested, who was cutting back in distance to a mile, relished the conditions as lone speed but I want to see him back it up on a fast track against deeper competition.
The Smarty Jones also-rans have much to prove, with runner-up
Petrov registering a 91 BRIS Speed rating and third-placer Rowdy the Warrior getting
an 85. Warrior’s Club, who finished a head better than Uncontested when third
in the Kentucky Jockey Club, garnered only an 82 for a disappointing fourth.
Uncontested earned a 95 BRIS Speed rating when opening his career with a six-length romp over maiden foes sprinting at Keeneland and had everything his own way on the lead in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club before running out gas by upper stretch. Inexperience may have been a key factor in the latter as he was trying winners and two turns in a tough spot, but the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby distance remained a legitimate concern entering 2017 given his half-brother, Grade 3 winner Solitary Ranger, preferred sprint/middle-distances.
It's still fair to question how Uncontested will fare if not lone speed in sloppy conditions, but he'll get the chance to dispel any doubts in future prep races.
Uncontested is expected to run back in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn on February 20.