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Old-Timer Rated R Superstar Takes Fifth Season

Favored Concert Tour finished last in his comeback at Oaklawn Park.

Rated R Superstar gets up in the closing strides to win the Fifth Season Stakes at Oaklawn Park

Rated R Superstar gets up in the closing strides to win the Fifth Season Stakes at Oaklawn Park

Coady Photography

Many multiple graded stakes winners have already bid adieu to the racetrack not long after their 4-year-old or 5-year-old seasons.

But at the tender age of 9, Rated R Superstar is still thriving in stakes company and, like a fine wine, might actually be better than ever at an advanced age for trainer Federico Villafranco.

The old-timer, winner of the 2016 Carry Back Stakes (G3) and 2018 Ben Ali Stakes (G3), taught a group of youngsters a thing or two about respecting their elders as he benefited from an inside trip and scored a 25-1 upset in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 15 at Oaklawn Park.

"Just because they are 8 or 9 doesn't mean they can't run," said winning owner Danny Caldwell. "They're old, hard-knocking horses and they know their job. They go out and try hard every day."

While the mile Fifth Season turned out to be a huge disappointment for 3-2 favorite Concert Tour, who was last of nine in his first start in eight months, Rated R Superstar started his 9-year-old campaign with a flourish after a four-month layoff.

"We gave him a break and he was fresh. Freddy's done a great job of getting him back," Caldwell said. "I was thinking of running him in an allowance race but Freddy said he's doing as good as he's ever done in our barn. I said let's give him a shot (in the Fifth Season)."

Rated R Superstar wins 2022 Fifth Season Stakes at Oaklawn Park
Photo: Coady Photography
Danny Caldwell smiles after a victory from Rated R Superstar in the Fifth Season Stakes

Caldwell and Villafranco claimed the Kodiak Kowboy gelding for $50,000 last January at Oaklawn Park and were rewarded with a second in the $500,000 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn and a win in the $175,000 Governor's Cup Stakes at Remington Park. Prior to Saturday, he had posted two wins, three seconds, and a third in eight starts for them.

Breaking from post 2 Saturday, jockey David Cabrera wisely saved ground after Rated R Superstar broke sluggishly and was eighth after an opening quarter of a mile in :23.33.

Meanwhile, the stretching-out sprinter Mucho darted out for the lead, chased by the two favorites, 5-2 Thomas Shelby and Concert Tour.

Gary and Mary West's Concert Tour, making his first start for trainer Brad Cox after not racing since outrun in the 2021 Preakness Stakes (G1) for trainer Bob Baffert, stalked three-wide on the backstretch. He came up empty on the turn and retreated to lose by 15 lengths.

"He hadn't run for a little while," jockey Joel Rosario said. "He was there for a little while and looked like he a lost a little focus the last part of the race. We'll see how he comes back the next time."

That left Thomas Shelby to take up the chase, but he was unable to reel in grade 1-placed Mucho. 

Behind them, Rated R Superstar and Cabrera came off the rail to tip three-wide on the turn and draw within about a half-length of the leader at the eighth pole and then edged away late by a neck.

The winner was timed in 1:37.16 on the fast track and paid $53.80 to win as the second-longest price on the toteboard

WSS Racing and 4 G Racing's Mucho, a son of Blame  trained by John Ortiz, finished a half-length ahead of M and M Racing's Thomas Shelby, a Curlin  gelding trained by Robertino Diodoro.

"He ran a winning race. To run second, it's heartbreaking," Ortiz said of Mucho.

Bred by Thorndale Stable in Kentucky, Rated R Superstar is the sixth of 11 foals from the Gold Case mare Wicked Wish, who has produced seven winners, with Rated R Superstar the one stakes victor. Wicked Wish's most recent foal is a yearling Bolt d'Oro  colt and she was bred to Dialed In  for 2022.

Rated R Superstar posted his 10th win in 57 starts and pushed his earnings to $1,271,014.

Caldwell said the Feb. 12 Razorback Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn could be next.

"We're looking at the Razorback," Caldwell said. "That's what we're hoping for. If he tells us he's ready for the race, we'll be there."

Video: Fifth Season S. (BT)