Asmussen Trio Tops Field Of Nine Seeking Kentucky Derby Points In Southwest Stakes

by | 02.14.2020 | 10:47am
Gold Street proved best in the Smarty Jones

The Oaklawn racing department listed nine probables for Monday's $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds, a 1 1/16-mile race that is the second of four local Kentucky Derby points races. Post positions for the Southwest, which boasts a record purse after being worth $500,000 the previous four years, will be drawn Friday.

Expected Southwest entrants, in alphabetical order, are American Butterfly for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Answer In (Brad Cox), Chase Tracker (Todd Pletcher), Gold Street (Steve Asmussen), Shoplifted (Asmussen), Silver Prospector (Asmussen), Taishan (Richard Baltas), Villainous (Jeremiah Englehart) and Wells Bayou (Cox).

The Southwest brings back the 1-3-4 finishers – all Asmussen trainees – from the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 24, Oaklawn's first Kentucky Derby points race. Gold Street was a front-running 2 ¾-length winner under Martin Garcia, with Shoplifted finishing third (beaten 5 ½ lengths) and Silver Prospector fourth (beaten 7 ½ lengths) over the muddy surface. Gold Street is seeking his fourth consecutive victory.

Answer In will be making his first start since finishing second, beaten a head, by Shoplifted in the $400,000 Springboard Mile Dec. 15 at Remington Park. Cox opted to bypass the 1-mile Smarty Jones and train up to the Southwest.

The south Florida-based Chase Tracker, who will be making his 3-year-old debut, hasn't started since finishing third in the $250,000 Remsen Stakes (G2) Dec. 7 at Aqueduct. Villainous (maiden special weights) and Wells Bayou (entry-level allowance) were winners earlier in the Oaklawn meeting.

The Southwest will offer 17 points to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. Points are awarded on a sliding scale, with the winner receiving 10, runner-up 4, third-place finisher 2 and fourth-place finisher 1. Gold Street earned 10 points for his Smarty Jones victory.

The Southwest highlights a stakes tripleheader on the special Presidents' Day card. The $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) is for older horses and the $200,000 Bayakoa (G3) is for older fillies and mares. Both races are 1 1/16 miles.

Expected Razorback entrants, according to the Oaklawn racing department, are Bravazo (Lukas), Campaign (John Sadler), Exulting (Mike Maker), Guest Suite (Cipriano Contreras), Joevia (Gregory Sacco), Math Wizard (Saffie Joseph Jr.), Pioneer Spirit (Robertino Diodoro), Rated R Superstar (Contreras), Snapper Sinclair (Asmussen) and Warrior's Charge (Cox).

Bravazo is a Grade 2 winner of $2,012,528. Exulting returns to Oaklawn for the first time since winning the inaugural $250,000 Oaklawn Mile last May. Guest Suite and Pioneer Spirit won the first and second division, respectively, of the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 25. Joevia ran third in last year's Belmont Stakes, the final leg of racing's Triple Crown.

Math Wizard finished fourth in last year's $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational before winning the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) Sept. 21 at Parx. Snapper Sinclair has several near-misses in dirt stakes, including the first division of the Fifth Season. Warrior's Charge recorded two powerful victories last year at Oaklawn before running fourth in the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Pioneer Spirit (120 pounds) is the projected starting high weight for the Razorback, a major prep for the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 18.

Expected Bayakoa entrants, according to the Oaklawn racing department, are Cairenn (Johnny Ortiz), Go Google Yourself (Paul McGee), Gold Standard (Cox), Lady Suebee (Sadler), Motion Emotion (Baltas) and Whoa Nellie (Larry Jones).

Go Google Yourself was an allowance winner at the 2019 Oaklawn meeting and won the $200,000 Locust Grove Stakes (G3) Sept. 14 at Churchill Downs. Motion Emotion was one of Oaklawn's leading 3-year-old fillies last year, finishing second in the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) and the $500,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3). Whoa Nellie, Cairenn and Lady Suebee finished first, third and fourth, respectively, in the $100,000 Pippin Stakes Jan. 25.

The Bayakoa is a major prep for the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 18.

Post positions for the Razorback and Bayakoa will also be drawn Friday. Racing begins Monday at 12:35 p.m. (Central).

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