STEWART CALLS A WEST COAST AUDIBLE
Sometimes the play gets sent in from the sidelines and people think you should run it because that’s what the popular opinion says. Numbers, tendencies, and other factors may go into the call. But then the quarterback puts his thinking cap on because he’s the guy staring the opposition in the face. In the huddle, he calls an audible and changes the play. Why…because he has a gut feeling based on real time experience. That’s exactly what one forward thinking Thoroughbred trainer has done with one of his star runners.
Dallas Stewart has been playing quarterback with a team of talented Thoroughbreds since the mid 1990’s. Standing tall as a signal caller since learning the trade under hall of fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, the Mississippi native has had a history of pulling off the unthinkable. His talented filly Lemons Forever became the longest shot to ever win the Kentucky Oaks (47-1) in 2006, and Out For A Spin was victorious in the 2019 Central Bank Ashland as a 52 to 1 underdog. His latest call, however is far from a double reverse flea flicking statue of liberty play. Stewart has simply chosen to send his skilled six-year old Seeking the Soul west for the Pacific Classic.
Based at Churchill Downs in Louisville, the normal school of thought would be to ship the Soul to Saratoga for their classic distance series for older horses. Because Stewart is eyeball to eyeball with his charge everyday, he decided to make a different move and pull a Jed Clampett. California is the placed he wants to send his star so he is loading up and heading to Del Mar.
“We went to Saratoga last year and he just didn’t seem to like it there,” says Stewart of Seeking the Soul’s 13th place finish in the Woodward Stakes last September. “We felt like if it doesn’t work you need to try something different so that’s why we are heading west for his next start.”
Packing up shouldn’t be a big issue as Dallas has rolled with the Soul all over the world. Having run at ten different race tracks in his twenty seven lifetime starts, the son of Perfect Soul has finished in the money twenty times and earned over $3 million. Seemingly getting better with age, Seeking the Soul began his six-year old campaign with a strong second place finish in the Pegasus Cup behind the flashy City of Light. Next he traveled to Dubai and finished a troubled eighth in the Dubai World Cup before returning home to land third in the Alysheba at Churchill on Kentucky Oaks day. His last start was an impressive score in the grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 15. Rating just off the pace in this mile and an eighth journey, jockey Johnny Velazquez booted the Soul home in Seeking out his third career graded stakes win.
“The Foster was a super race for him,” says Stewart. “It showed us all he’s still got his head in the game. As horses get older some get better and some do not. He has gotten better and seems to have plenty of drive left.”
As a trainer that has sent his stable to many popular destinations, Del Mar has not been one he has frequented. Mostly running east of the Mississippi, Dallas did venture to the Seaside Oval for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup and captured the $2 million Distaff with Forever Unbridled. Hoping to make this next foray a winner as well, Stewart is eager for the opportunity.
“The chance to run at a place like Del Mar, I mean what an opportunity,” says Stewart. “The Pacific Classic is one of those big races on the calendar everyone looks at. Seeking the Soul has been working really well and we are excited to run again. Right now it is all systems go.”
Seeking the Soul will complete preparations for the August 17 Pacific Classic at his base in Louisville. Scheduled to ship the week of the race, Stewart has called the play, now its time for his Soul to execute.