In our Big Move of the Week, we feature one horse each week who impressed and might warrant a spot on your watch list. For the week ending January 18, that horse is a just-turned three-year-old named Never Gone South.
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- Last race: Making his third straight start in stakes company — this time as the 3-5 favorite — Never Gone South blitzed the field in the $75,000 Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes for three-year-olds at Laurel Park on Saturday. Facing a modest group that, after scratches, topped out at just five runners, Never Gone South grabbed control in the first jumps and led at every call en route to a 7 1/4 length victory in 1:23.92 for seven furlongs. It was the first stakes victory of his career and pushed his overall record to 5-3-2-0 and his earnings to $141,125.
- Unintentional class relief: Never Gone South had previously run second, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the James F. Lewis, III Stakes over the strip and then was beaten a similar margin when second in the Marylander Stakes on December 5. Both those races look pretty good now, though, as Lewis winner Awesome Speed returned to win the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park and put himself in the Kentucky Derby conversation, while Marylander winner Vorticity ran second to the well-regarded Flexibility in the Grade 3 Jerome in his next try.
- Finishing up nicely: With Trevor McCarthy up, Never Gone South got away with moderate early fractions, leading the field by a length through a quarter-mile in 24.14 seconds and a half-mile in 47.91. Where he earned Big Move of the Week honors — and laid waste to his Whiteley rivals — came in the race’s third quarter, which he zipped in a sharp 23.70 seconds while stretching his lead from one length to six. He finished the final eighth in 12.31 seconds while geared down late, meaning that he traveled the final three eighths of a mile in just 36.01 seconds.
- The future’s so bright…: Trainer Cal Lynch indicated that his charge may remain in Maryland for the foreseeable future — and that that future might include the third Saturday in May at Pimlico. Next up is expected to be the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel Park at a distance of one mile on February 15.
- Connections: Never Gone South is trained by Cathal Lynch for M M G Racing Stables, who bought him for $90,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sales Company’s April two-year-old sale last year. He is a Kentucky-bred son of Munnings out of the winless Perfect Soul mare Summer Rules.
(Music used in this video: First Call, by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)