Back in March, two horses shipped to Oaklawn Park from California for the Rebel S. (G2) March 19 and were sent off as the 7-5 favorite and 9-5 second choice in the 1 1/16-mile race. The favorite, The Factor (War Front), easily won the race and went back to California to prepare for his return in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16, while the second choice, SWAY AWAY (Afleet Alex), remained in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to lick his wounds after finishing sixth.
Thursday, Sway Away, trained by Jeff Bonde, showed that he has benefited from his stay at Oaklawn by posting a good looking six-furlong workout in 1:12 3/5 as he prepares for the rematch with The Factor and several other horses from the Rebel in the Arkansas Derby.
With Luis Quinonez aboard, the multiple Grade 2-placed colt moved steadily through fractions of :12 4/5, :24 3/5, :36 4/5, :49 2/5 and 1:01 before galloping out seven furlongs on the fast track in 1:25.
"It was a very nice work," said Quinonez, who used to ride for Bonde when based in California. "He started off a little show like we wanted and picked it up nicely. He finished good and galloped out really good. I worked him last time also and he went in :59 (3/5 on March 31), so he's a nice horse."
Sway Away will be ridden in the Arkansas Derby by Pat Valenzuela. Quinonez teams with the highly-regarded ALTERNATION (Distorted Humor), who is possible for the Arkansas Derby after flipping in the starting gate of the Rebel and being scratched.
It has been an exciting winter for Quinonez, perennially one of Oaklawn's leading riders, and his younger brother Alonso, who is a jockey in Southern California. Alonso is the regular rider of Premier Pegasus (Fusaichi Pegasus), the morning-line favorite for Saturday's Santa Anita Derby (G1).
When asked what it would be like if both he and his brother made it to the Kentucky Derby (G1), Quinonez replied, "Oh my god, that would be exciting."