Preview of the Southwest Stakes – Grade III, $250,000 – Oaklawn Park – 1 Mile
by Brian Nadeau
Well, the Kentucky Derby Trail really gets going here, as we see the return of Old Fashioned, who many view as the horse to beat (is there such a thing three months out?) as of now. He meets a pretty soft cast for his return so it will be interesting to see how he performs, especially as it looks like he won’t be on the lead early. Let’s take a look at the main contenders.
Retap– He’s done some nice things in his career, highlighted by a fine second to West Side Bernie in the Grade III Kentucky Cup Juvenile last fall. Makes his first start of the year Monday but benefits from a cozy inside draw. He’ll have to step up his game quite a bit to get unsaddled.
Silver City– The probable second choice has been flying under the radar and gets tested for class in here, but he’s not without his merits. While he’s never been beyond 6 ½ furlongs, he does have a pedigree that suggests routing will be no problem. He looks to have things all his own way up front in here and he figures to get mighty brave turning for home. He gets the call to pull the upset and officially join the Derby Trail.
Old Fashioned– The Future Book Derby favorite makes his much anticipated 3-year-old debut for expert trainer who’s loaded this year. His win in the Remsen last year was about as impressive a performance as you’ll ever see from a 2-year-old but we have to remember this is just a jumping off point today, and far from the major goal. He meets a sharp rival in Silver City, who has recency over him, not to mention a tactical advantage, so those factors could compromise this guy’s chances. We’ll call him second-best today in an obvious prep for some bigger assignments down the road.
Flat Out– He sure did look good winning off in the Smarty Jones here last month, and a repeat of that effort gives him a chance in this spot. It’s never a bad thing to have a win over the track and distance and if Silver City can’t get the mile and Old Fashioned isn’t quite ready, well, you never know, do you?
Professor Z– Ran a big one two-back over the inner dirt at Aqueduct, but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. He was nowhere in the Smarty Jones, running last as the even-money favorite, so he’ll need to reverse things in a big way. On the plus side it’s nice to see Asmussen wheel him right back, but he probably needs softer to show his best.
Poltergeist– Another who looked great winning a 1-mile allowance here on January 17. That race was leaps and bounds better than anything he’s ever done before, so we have to be wary of a bounce, though we’ll note it was his first start at two turns. The one to fear if he runs back to that race, but we’ll make him show us first.