Oaklawn Park: The $500,000 Southwest at 1 1/16 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points 10-4-2-1)
Oaklawn’s path to the Arkansas Derby begins with the pricey Southwest, which figures to be a key launching pad to the local GII Rebel next month. A potentially aggressive pace should aid the chances of California invader #7 SUENO (7-2), a son of Atreides who has outrun his pedigree for Desormeaux and enters off a fine second to the talented Gunmetal Gray in Santa Anita’s GIII Sham last month. Pletcher ships in the ML favorite #3 CUTTING HUMOR (3-1), who will get plenty of support off a good second to the highly-regarded Bourbon War in a Gulfstream Park optional-claimer last month, and this son of First Samurai has a similar style to the pick and drew better, so he must be respected. A wide draw won’t help #10 LONG RANGE TODDY (10-1), one of five entered for Asmussen, but he does appear to have the best shot of the slew that enters after running in the local Smarty Jones last month, so if this Take Charge Indy colt can avoid being too wide, he figures to get first run on the top pair and better that second-place finish last time. While he was a disappointing sixth as the Smarty Jones favorite, #9 BANKIT (10-1) will be a much better price today, gets José Ortiz to come in and ride, and will love all the pace het gets up front, so he could make amends and spring the upset for the Asmussen army.
#3 Cutting Humor
#10 Long Range Toddy