Cooke Creek wins the Rocky Run Stakes at Delaware Park on October 16
Cooke Creek on target for G3 Withers; Undefeated Jet Force set for Stakes debut
Cheyenne Stable’s Cooke Creek ran a half mile in 50.58 on the Belmont dirt training track on January 19 in preparation for the 3rd year, $250,000 Withers on February 5 at Aqueduct in Ozone Park, NY The nine-stadium test for sophomores offers 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points for the top four finishers.
Cooke Creek is one of Jeremiah O’Dwyer’s three New York interns in the barn of Natalia Lynch, a Belmont-based trainer with Jet Force and Sibelius.
A dark bay son of Uncle Mo, Cooke Creek finished third as the mutual favorite last in Jerome’s one-lap mile, contested on a sloppy, sealed main track on New Year’s Day.
“Cooke Creek came back here [to Laurel] after Jerome and I sent him back to Belmont last week and he flew there on Wednesday,” O’Dwyer said. “It will be one more breeze in Belmont – I would like it to be Saturday, but I will have to see how the weather is going to be. If all goes well he will have a nice five furlong breeze next week and then race in the Withers.
Cooke Creek made its first two starts at Delaware Park, earning an inaugural 5 1/2 furlong special weight in September before a half-length score driving around two turns in the one-mile Rocky Run in October.
He entered the Jerome after a second effort against Rockefeller in the one-turn mile of Nashua as a 3rd grade on Nov. 7 at Belmont.
Cooke Creek will enjoy a rematch in the Withers with Jerome-winner Courvoisier and runner-up Smarten Up. Although Cooke Creek picked up two points in the Kentucky Derby for third place from Jerome and is currently 24th in the standings, O’Dwyer said he’s not thinking about the first Saturday in May just yet.
“The Withers is going to be another test. You always hope to have a Derby horse, but he has to progress to get there,” said O’Dwyer, whose past success in the Derby includes a win in the 2019 Grade 2 Remsen with Shotski. “That’s the path we’re taking and I think it’s a good place for him to do two corners up there. He looks fit and healthy and I think the two corners will help him.
“But the top three who raced in the Jerome are all going to think the same thing – the further they go, the better off they will be,” O’Dwyer added. “The winner of the Jerome broke his maiden doing a mile and an eighth up there and the [connections of the] second horse is convinced that his horse wants to go further as well, so we are all thinking along the same lines. That’s why we run them – to find out.
Jet Force of Orpen Horses, a sophomore daughter of Jimmy Creed, has a perfect record through two starts at Penn National. She clocked a half mile in 53.06 on January 19 at the Belmont dirt training track.
A $17,000 buy at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, the Pennsylvania-bred chestnut graduated sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on Dec. 8 and followed nine days later with a score of 2 3/4 furlongs. length in a sprint of six furlongs.
O’Dwyer said Jet Force is nominated for Saturday’s $100,000 Xtra Heat, a six furlong sprint for sophomore fillies at Laurel Park, but could also consider the $100,000 Ruthless, a six furlong sprint. seven furlongs for second-year fillies on February 6 at the Big A.
“She’s going to sprint for now. She had an easy half and had a nice canter afterwards,” O’Dwyer said. “We’ll probably get into the stakes at Laurel and see how it goes and we have the Ruthless as a backup.”
Sibelius, a 4-year-old son of Not This Time owned by Jun. H. Park and Delia Nash, made their last two Big A starts, winning a seven furlong sprint last on Jan. 8.
“He ran two great races there in New York,” O’Dwyer said. “We will try to get him through his conditions first. There’s one for him at the start of February, which still goes seven eighths.
Raised in Kentucky by Taylor Brothers Properties and Pollock Farms, Sibelius graduated as a sophomore asking for the 6 1/2 furlong sprint in April at Keeneland before outboard efforts in the 3rd-grade Penn Mile out of the field in May, the Six-stadium concern in July over the Pimlico mainline and the seven-stadium Robert Hilton Memorial on August 27 in Charles Town.
O’Dwyer said Sibelius had benefited from the more than three-month layoff of the Charles Town effort.
“He was immature mentally more than anything and a bit physically I guess,” O’Dwyer said. “When he threw a few smacks there was nothing wrong with him physically and he was healthy, but we just decided to take a step back. We gave him some rotation time and let him regroup. Fortunately, it worked. He came back very well and after running two decent races after the layoff. We hope there is a little more progression in him.
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