01/08/2013 7:45PM

2012 Eclipse Awards: Uncaptured

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photo by: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

After winning the 2001 Kentucky Derby with Monarchos, owner John Oxley took 11 years to make it back to the world’s most famous horse race. Unfortunately, his 2012 starter, Prospective, could only manage an 18th-place finish in the run for the roses.

With the promising Uncaptured, it would appear Oxley won’t have to wait another 11 years to make it back to the Derby.

After dominating the 2-year-old scene in Canada, Uncaptured invaded the United States to sweep the two graded stakes for juveniles conducted at the Churchill Downs fall meet. His dominant victory in the Grade 3 Iroquois combined with his gutsy score in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club four weeks later made Uncaptured 6 for 7 in 2012 and made him a finalist for an Eclipse Award as North America’s champion 2-year-old male.

“He just did everything right,” trainer Mark Casse said when asked to sum up Uncaptured’s 2-year-old season. “The horse is just a real pleasure.”
Bred by William D. Graham, Uncaptured is a son of 2004 Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart out of the Arch mare Captivating. A March foal, he was purchased by Oxley for $290,000 out of the 2011 Keeneland September yearling auction.
Uncaptured got ready early, which is why Casse put him in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race on May 13, even though he felt the distance was too short for him.

“I told Mr. Oxley this is too short for him but there’s nothing more I can do with him, he’s ready to run,” Casse said. “I said, he’ll come running and we’ll go from there.”

After getting up to win by a nose, Uncaptured kept going, reeling off three consecutive stakes victories from 5 1/2 furlongs to 7 furlongs. A fifth-place finish as the 2-5 favorite in the Grey Stakes on Oct. 7 at 1 1/16 miles turned his connections away from the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

“We were having an unbelievable weekend, we had won three or four stakes, and I was feeling confident that he would gallop,” Casse said. “That’s what he did, he just galloped around there.”

Unable to find any excuse, Casse wheeled Uncaptured back three weeks later in the Iroquois because he liked the mile distance and wanted to give the colt a try on dirt following his five Polytrack races.

After racing between horses down the backstretch, Uncaptured got clear in upper stretch and stormed home a 5 1/2-length winner of the Iroquois.
Uncaptured passed his two-turn test in the Kentucky Jockey Club, and showed tremendous determination, being passed by Frac Daddy in upper stretch, then battling back along the rail while exchanging bumps with Frac Daddy to win by a neck.

“Honestly, at the eighth pole I thought he was beat,” Casse said after the race. “Very seldom does a 2-year-old get headed, be on the inside and come back and win. He showed his gameness today. Good horses can win when things don’t go perfect.”