In his next three starts, Uncaptured, trained by Mark Casse for John Oxley, made off with the Clarendon, Vandal and Swynford. The money and notoriety were piling up.
By year’s end, the chocolate coloured colt had collected two very important victories in Kentucky, was all the buzz as the early favourite for the Queen’s Plate for 2013 and even on the radar as a possible Kentucky Derby hopeful.
Uncaptured was an overwhelming selection by Sovereign Award voters for Canada’s Horse of the Year and Champion Two-Year-Old Colt.
It was the first time since 1986 that a juvenile took down the biggest award in Canadian racing, following Sam-Son Farms’ filly Ruling Angel.
But then, one wouldn’t expect any less from a horse labelled with the barn name of “Whitey Bulger” after a legendary Boston crime boss.
“Mark and I sit up on the front side and watch training in the mornings and Mark was so interested last year in this case about a man named Whitey Bulger who had been on the run from the F.B.I. for sixteen years,” explains assistant trainer Kathryn Sullivan.
At the time, Casse and Sullivan were trying to get the name Run Whitey Run by the Jockey Club, but couldn’t seal the deal, and then fate intervened.
“When Uncaptured came into the barn, I thought that was the perfect barn name for the horse,” grins Sullivan, responsible for other gems such as “Ten Pin” for Dixie Strike and “Paris” for Spring in the Air.
“We give them all barn names and he got a special one, because he’s a special horse,” laughs Sullivan.
The real-life Whitey Bulger cut a menacing figure as a mob boss thought to be responsible for 19 murders. From 1975 until the mid-1990s, Bulger doubled as an F. B.I informant allowing his underworld activities, including a tainted $14-million lottery win, to go unpunished.
And then, in 1994, with the F.B.I under much public scrutiny, an arrest warrant was issued for Bulger – but the culprit’s corrupt handler tipped Bulger off, sending him into hiding for more than 16 years.
Uncaptured, a dark bay son of Lion Heart-Captivating, by Arch, bred in Ontario by William Graham, has been on a good run of his own.
Purchased for $290,000 by American John Oxley at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale, Uncaptured continued a spending spree by Oxley and Casse, who teamed up three years ago to form a strong Canadian stable.
“He showed his class from the beginning,” said Sullivan. “Mark had already pegged him as a horse with potential in Florida, so he came to me with a bit of bias, but he’s a lovely horse to be around and he was really sensible for a two-year-old colt. We all took a shine to him when he first came into the barn.”
Following his trio of added-money wins, Uncaptured stepped up his run-and-gun campaign by entering the Grade III Grey Stakes – and for the first time, Uncaptured was caught following a troubled trip where nothing went the colt’s way.
“He was on track for the Breeders’ Cup but the Grey put things into disarray,” recalls Sullivan.
Uncaptured escaped Woodbine, re-surfacing at Churchill Downs for his next start firing off a 5 _-length win in the Grade III Iroquois.
In his next start, the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club, Uncaptured cemented his status as a force to be reckoned with by grinding out a neck victory over Frac Daddy. The win propelled him when Wynn Casino made him the winter book favourite for the Kentucky Derby.
“In races like the Clarendon and the Vandal I don’t think he showed as much talent as he had, because he didn’t have to,” starts Sullivan. “But in the Jockey Club he dug down and really fought for that win. And for that to be his sixth win, and fifth stakes win, while racing on two different surfaces as a two-year-old – that’s a lot to be proud of, for sure.”
Whitey Bulger, the criminal, was caught for the final time on June 22, 2011 at 81-years-of-age. A feature film starring Johnny Depp is in the works.
“Whitey Bulger”, a.k.a. Uncaptured, continues to live life on the lam as a three-year-old. His second place finish in the Spiral Stakes (GII) at Turfway Park on Mar. 23 was a smart comeback. He followed that up with a ninth place finish in the April 13 Blue Grass Stakes (GI). Rumours are now abound of a plot to take down the $1 million Plate on July 7: co-conspirators Casse and Oxley could not be reached for questioning.