Triple Crown: Un Ojo eyes Derby spot

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Un Ojo (far right, #4) rallied late to win the Rebel. Photo Coady Photography.

Despite darkening and rain-filled skies, Cypress Creek Equine LLC’s Un Ojo, and jockey Ramon Vazquez managed to see a clear inside path to victory in Saturday’s $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn.

The gelded son of Laoban, who was given his name after losing one eye in a paddock accident as a baby, shocked the crowd of 31,000 with the half-length win as the longest shot on the toteboard at 75-1. It was good enough to earn 50 points toward qualifying for the Kentucky Derby and gave trainer Ricky Courville the biggest stakes win of his career.

 “I’ve loved this horse since Day 1,” said assistant trainer Clay Courville, who is Ricky Courville’s son. “I knew he had the talent to be this kind of horse. I always had the confidence in him. He just improved so much every single day, every single race.”

Ethereal Road rallied into the stretch along with Barber Road, but those two faded in the final yards to finish second and third. Kavod set the pace, but was squeezed back to fourth. Un Ojo stopped the clock in 1:45 3/5 over a wet-fast track.

Un Ojo, who had previously collected four points with his second in the Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, moved into second-place on the leaderboard with 54 total points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility. Ethereal Road is now ranked fourth after collecting 20 points for second and Barber Road, who had been second in both the Smarty Jones and Southwest (G3) Stakes leading up to the Rebel, is now fifth with 18 points. Fourth-place finisher Kavod is ranked 19th with seven points. Only 20 horses can start in the Kentucky Derby.

Un Ojo improved his record to 2-2-0 in six starts and has earned $776,321. He returned $152.80, $41.80 and $18.60.

Un Ojo has raced for both Courville and for Tony Dutrow. It was in Dutrow’s care that he ran third in the Grade 3 Withers Feb. 5.

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“It’s crazy. It’s kind of shared between me and Tony because I sent him to Tony, to Aqueduct, for the winter and Tony had him until Monday and sent him back to us,” Ricky Courville said. “Gosh, I feel bad for Tony. The owners (Cypress Creek Equine) kind of decided (on the Rebel). I think Tony was wanting to keep him up there for the Gotham, but they wanted to not go back to a one-turn mile and (Kevin Moody of Cypress Creek Equine) wanted to send him down here and take a shot at the money. He kept saying the two turns is going to be better for us.”

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The Rebel Stakes is the last of three races leading up to the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby April 2, which offers a total of 170 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility, with 100 to the winner.

With his 54 points, Un Ojo has now all but locked up a spot in the Derby.

“This is a dream come true,” said Clay Courville. “Two strong efforts in his last two races. Closed really well in the last two races with (trainer) Mr. Anthony Dutrow, who has done a great job with the horse. He sent him down here for us to run and he came here. We were hoping he would close good. He kind of laid a little closer than we thought. He grinded away today.”


1Epicenter (KY) / T: Steve Asmussen / O: Westwind Farms64
2Un Ojo (NY) / T: Anthony Dutrow / O: Cypress Creek Equine54
3Smile Happy (KY) / T: Kenny McPeek / O: Lucky Seven Stable30
4Ethereal Road (KY) / T: D. Wayne Lukas / O: Aaron Sones20
5Barber Road (KY) / T: John Ortiz / O: WSS Racing LLC18
6Classic Causeway (KY) / T: Brian Lynch / O: Kentucky West Racing LLC & Clarke Cooper16
7Zandon (KY) / T: Chad Brown / O: Jeff Drown14
8Pappacap (FL) / T: Mark Casse / O: Buttonwood Farm Inc.14
9White Abarrio (KY) / T: Saffie Joseph Jr. / O: C2 Racing Stable LLC and La Milagrosa Stable, LLC12
10Mo Donegal (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: Donegal Racing12
11Slow Down Andy (CA) / T: Doug O’Neill / O: Reddam Racing LLC10
12Rattle N Roll (KY) / T: Kenny McPeek / O: Lucky Seven Stable10
13Make It Big (FL) / T: Saffie Joseph Jr. / O: Red Oak Stable10
14Major General (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: WinStar Farm LLC and CHC Inc10
15Jack Christopher (KY) / T: Chad Brown / O: Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister, Coolmore Stud & Peter Brant10
16Early Voting (KY) / T: Chad Brown / O: Klaravich Stables Inc.10
17Dash Attack (KY) / T: Kenny McPeek / O: Catalyst Stable, Magdalena Racing, Kevin Pollard & Patty Slevin10
18Courvoisier (KY) / T: Kelly Breen / O: Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings & James Spry10
19Call Me Midnight (KY) / T: Keith Desormeaux / O: Peter Cantrell10
20Kavod (KY) / T: Chris Hartman / O: James Rogers & Michael Robinson7
21Commandperformance (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: Repole Stable & St. Elias Stable6
22Pioneer of Medina (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: Sumaya U. S. Stable5
23Mackinnon (KY) / T: Doug O’Neill / O: Boom Racing, ERJ Racing, LLC, Madaket Stables LLC & Dave Kenney5