A 4th in the Rebel, a 5th in the Arkansas Derby, and a hard fought 6th in the Kentucky Derby followed a win in the LeComte. Each time, except the Arkansas Derby, Oxbow sought the lead. In the Rebel, Oxbow made every fraction and got nipped at the wire by the longshot, Will Take Charge. The Arkansas Derby was a failed experiment in rating off the lead. The Derby was an example of the pure grit of this horse in that he stayed with a radioactive pace and still managed to hold of most comers and finish 6th.
I can't say enough that this horse is completely bred for the classic distance. By Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, and from a family which boasts the only two-time BC Classic winner, Tiznow, there was never any doubt that he could get a classic distance. But the confluence of events necessary to actually win a major stakes race from the front had eluded Oxbow up until the Preakness came about.
The pedigree screams dirt. The pedigree screams 10 furlongs. The pedigree screams that the colt will be better as he gets older.
But the major knock on him was that he was headstrong, and didn't listen to the jock's instructions.
So what do you do? You add one of the best jockeys in the history of the game to the equation and what do you get? You get a Grade 1 victory after enough time for the colt to grow, develop, and mature to the point where Gary Stevens could have perfect control over the colt on the front of of a tame pace and steal the Preakness.
Oxbow certainly is living up to every bit of the lofty expectations of his lineage. All he needed was a little bit of luck.
(Note by TFTribe: Original article posted immediately following Oxbow's victory in the LeComte Stakes in January 2013)
But as Oxbow crossed the line first in the LeComte Stakes, I knew that I had seen that pedigree before. As a son of Awesome Again out of the Cee's Tizzy mare Tizamazing, it really rang a bell.
Oxbow didn't show a ton of class as a 2 year old. In fact, on this site, the handicapping that took place saw a lot of drawbacks as a contender in the Lecomte there:
I think he’s simply outclassed. Took four maiden tries to win, and faded in only route (granted, it was a G1). (matt.sanders.3910)
[Oxbow] could be a good candidate to pop a good effort in this race after finishing a distant fourth in the G1-CashCall Futurity at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 15 ... I'm hesitant, however, by the presence of D. Wayne Lukas, as the Hall of Fame trainer has only five wins in his last 227 graded stakes starts (Matt Gardner)
But then the colt goes off and obliterates the field. As I looked into his pedigree, it seemed remarkably familiar. Seeing Cee's Song as his granddam tipped me off. In fact, it was so similar to one I've seen before, that I can simply quote myself about the pedigree (just change Paynter to Paynter/Oxbow):
Cee's Song was the 2001 California Broodmare of the Year. She was an amazing producer with two Champion-caliber offspring. Her cross with Cee's Tizzy was as productive a mating as can be dreamed of (and yes, I actually do dream of things like this).
His pedigree certainly shows the stamina to go 10 furlongs, with Tiznow featured right there in the middle. Paynter's siblings are extremely successful at 6-8 furlongs on the turf and the dirt, so there's the genesis of his speed.
And Awesome Again? From the Stallion Register:
Name Earnings Ghostzapper $3,446,120 Ginger Punch $3,065,603 Awesome Gem $2,851,370 Game On Dude $2,644,658 Wilko $2,435,133
That's some very good names that all succeeded at classic distances.
Oxbow and Paynter are out of full siblings. Oxbow is out of Tizamazing (Cee's Tizzy - Cee's Song). Paynter is out of Tizso (Cee's Tizzy - Cee's Song). Their full sibling is Tiznow and they can count amongst their other siblings Budroyale, a gelding who won nearly $3,000,000. Remarkable. But Oxbow and Paynter are full cousins (?) if you can say that. So they share 100% of the same genetic information; it may be arranged differently, but it's all there.
Oxbow's dam Tizamazing is unraced. But she has already had three winners from three foals including listed stakes winner Awesome Patriot (another colt by Awesome Again). So the family cross with Awesome Again is pure gold. Paynter's dam, Tizso, has a deeper and better production record while crossing with multiple stallions, but she is also 7 years older.
So I will give Oxbow some time to grow up. Paynter showed that he needed an extra month or two to really come into his own as one of the more dynamic 3yos of the 2012 racing season. (Had he only won the Belmont! arghh....). I can write off some of Oxbow's struggles as a 2yo and hope that he's developing just a hair quicker than did Paynter, and hope for that same dynamic front running style to hold up as we inch closer to the Derby.
[Note by TFTribe, 01/22/13 12:25 PM EST ] And as soon as I peruse the rest of the interwebs I find that the Paulick Report's Lane's End Weekender Pedigree Profile took a look at Oxbow as well.