Brian’s Derby Preps: The Southwest (both divisions)

Oaklawn Park: The Grade III, $250,000 Southwest at 1-mile (run in divisions)

First division

#1 Red Jack: Lukas charge hasn’t made an impact in two starts against winners this year over the local oval, and even though he drew well, this is a tough task; longshot.

#2 Unbridled’s Note: Son of Unbridled’s Song impressed in his lone career run last October at Churchill Downs, and now he tries a mighty tall task off the shelf for Asmussen. Tons of speed in this corner and the rest might not be able to run with him early, which means at this short mile he can get very brave off the far turn; looks like the one they’ll have to run down.

#3 Jake Mo: Improved several lengths in his 3yo debut in the local Smarty Jones behind a few rivals he meets again today, so right away you have to wonder if regression is forthcoming. Tracked a slow pace last time and the splits will be much quicker today, so expect him to be midpack, a running style that has never proven successful for this colt; playing against.

#4 Majestic Stride: Put it together in his local (and dirt) debut last time and will be the one to keep ‘Unbridled’s company early, so in a sense he owns the key to the race. Son of Trippi is bred to go this far and Bonde knows how to get a 3yo to run big, so with a one-over pressing/stalking trip. he can be a big threat in here; looms a player.

#5 Longview Drive: Blinks went on in the GIII Sham at Santa Anita for his 3yo debut and the result was a huge third in by far a career-best run. Not quite sure if that race was legit or not, but if he doesn’t bounce and runs back to that race,  the rest are in trouble, though he’ll have to prove it; trying to beat on top.

#6 Junebugred: Won the track and distance Smarty Jones to kick off his campaign, but we’ve already mentioned that race was a bit sketchy, as it was run slow early and got a high speed figure that’s tough to believe. Still, these 3yos can improve leaps and bounds overnight and maybe that’s just what he did, though at an underlaid price with some other toughies signed on,  he’s another that has to show he’s the real deal; playing against.

#7 No Spin: Blinks come off a runner who is 0-for-3 on conventional dirt and was beaten up pretty good while running 10th in the Smarty Jones, so unless he wakes up in a big way, he’s an easy toss; not seeing it.

#8 Reckless Jerry: Necked out by ‘Junebug in the Smarty Jones to complete the “Where did that race come from?” thinking, as he’s another who jumped way up in terms of the speed figure he earned. Still, he drew the 12-hole that day and still ran huge while enduring a wide trip and was gaining at the end, so just maybe he is this good right now. Tactical runner seems to have a few different gears and rates the top pick from the Smarty Jones quintet; using.

#9 Ring It Up: Distant second behind the well-regarded Cyber Secret (see the 2nd division) in a local optional claimer and has improved dramatically since the blinks went on two starts ago, so he enters on the upswing. Versatile sort can run from on or just off the pace and actually cuts back off a pair of 1 1/16-mile runs and has the look of a major contender; figures to be heard from.

#10 Laurie’s Rocket: Dueled on the lead through soft fractions before tiring and finishing fifth in the Smarty Jones, though he was beaten just two lengths. That was just his second run at two turns, so he can improve, but you wonder how he’s going to fare when he is four or five lengths further back than usual, because he’s not fast enough to make the front today; passing.

#11 Castaway: Heads in off a two-turn MSW at SA to finally break through after six starts for Baffert. There’s speed here and with this wide draw he might have to gun, so expect him to be right off the pace. Steps up in a big way and got no favors from the draw, so he might need another day to show his best; tabbing for down the road.

Selections:

#2 Unbridled’s Note

#9 Ring It Up

#5 Longview Drive

 

Second division

#1 Z Rockstar: Son of Rockport Harbor has yet to beat winners and exits a slow allowance at today’s distance over the track, so it’s hard to envision him factoring in this tough spot; longshot.
#2 Adirondack King: Enters off a modest third in the Pasco at Tampa Bay to kick off his 3yo campaign, and he’ll need to run much faster to threaten this salty group. Owns the right stalk-and-pounce style, but up to this point, others are simply faster; not seeing it.

#3 Scatman: Speedster stretches out and tries two turns off a sharp allowance win last time, which marked his first start since October. Bred for the trip and looms the inside speed, but others will be gunning early too, so a pop and fade seems likely; tall order.

#4 Apprehender: Looked awesome winning his debut in the mud here last month and now gets thrown to the wolves while taking the blinkers off. There’s no denying this gelding possesses a ton of talent, but there’s also no denying that this is a giant step up in class, as he meets some cagey and seasoned foes; watching for down the road.

#5 Chalybeate Springs: Lukas runner was drubbed in the GIII Lecomte at Fair Grounds in his last start and meets a tougher field today, so he’s an easy toss; giant longshot.

#6 Pee H Dee: Defeated the rail runner in that slow allowance in his last start, but he does get a few bonus points for a track and distance win. Figures to sit a dream trip just off the speed for a hot Richard barn, but the gut says he blinks when the real running begins; midpack finish seems likely.

#7 Cyber Secret: No idea where that optional claiming romp came from in his last start here, but it rates as the defining 3yo race of the young meet, so you better take this guy seriously. Looks like he found.a new home when sent to the front, and that might prove a bit dicey today, as there is some serious sprint speed signed on, so look for him to go back to a pressing/stalking trip.
The bounce theorists will be out in full force and regression is a serious worry, but just maybe he’s turned the corner and is ready to announce he’s the real deal; call to win this from just off the pace.

#8 King Coral: Well beaten in the Smarty Jones, so unless he’s got about 15 lengths of improvement in him, he’s an easy toss; needs much softer to factor.

#9 Secret Circle: BC Juvenile Sprint hero ran a smasher when sent long in the GIII Sham, and it took the length of the stretch and suicidal fractions for Out Of Bounds to run him down. This outside draw is not ideal, but he’s plenty fast enough to negate it, so look for him to be on or just off the pace entering the first turn, which puts the inside runners in a precarious position. Still not sure he’ll be at his best going two turns, but after the Sham run, it’s tough to think he can’t be a major player here for Baffert; clearly the one to beat.

#10 Big Wednesday: Juvenile stakes winner at Presque Isle Downs to end his 2yo season tries two turns for the first time in a mighty ambitious spot. Got no help from this wide draw, though he wants to come from off the pace anyway, so expect him to drop back and try to make a run when they hit the stretch. Steps way up in class and is being asked to do a lot, but he’s bred for this trip and more, and he has the look of an intriguing newcomer; thinking he outruns his big odds.

Selections:

#7 Cyber Secret

#9 Secret Circle

#10 Big Wednesday

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