Ed and Susie Orr's G2 Kentucky Jockey Club winner Silver Prospector may have finished fourth in his sophomore debut in last month's Smarty Jones, but the colt rebounded along the Kentucky Derby trail this Monday to win the G3 Southwest Stakes by about a length over front-running Wells Bayou. The 3-year-old son of Declaration of War, ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr. for trainer Steve Asmussen, ran 1 1/16 miles over Oaklawn's fast main track in 1:43.01.
“I think we were pretty reserved today,” said Ed Orr. “We had a lot of information that he was doing good. We were disappointed in the fourth-place finish in the Smarty Jones and thought that we could have done better there. We've learned a long time ago in this business to not get your hopes too high because they can be shot down pretty fast.”
The victory, earned at odds of 9-2, earned Silver Prospector 10 additional points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. His new total of 21 points places the colt sixth on the current Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
The full Kentucky Derby leaderboard can be accessed here: Derby Oaks Leaderboard
“The last two weeks the horse was training unbelievable,” Santana said. “We didn't get any rain so the track was just how he liked it. He pulled me in a great spot the first quarter, and i just became his passenger.”
Wells Bayou continued to lead through the far turn and up to the head of the stretch, with Santana sitting patiently just behind him on Silver Prospector. When Wells Bayou straightened for home, Santana drove Silver Prospector through a narrow gap to the leader's outside to find clear running room.
Silver Prospector grabbed the lead from there, maintaining his advantage through the wire while appearing to not extend himself fully in the final sixteenth of a mile. Wells Bayou ran well to finish second, beaten a length, after setting a fast early pace. Answer In had dead aim on the leaders at the head of the lane, but raced greenly through the stretch, shying from the whip, and had to settle for third. Shoplifted finished fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by Hargus Sexton, Sandra Sexton and Silver Fern Farm, Silver Prospector is out of the multiple stakes-placed Tapit mare Tap Softly. The colt commanded a final bid of $50,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling sale, then turned around the next spring to bring $190,000 at OBS April. It took four starts for him to break his maiden, after which he placed third in the listed Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs.
In his next out, Silver Prospector stamped himself a potential Derby contender with a win in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes over future prep race winners Tiz the Law and Enforceable. Overall, the colt's record stands at three wins and three thirds from eight starts for earnings of over $700,000.
“His position was by design,” Asmussen said. “I thought he got a little too far behind in the Smarty Jones. He was in good position all the way. Absolutely, we'll look at the Rebel (March 14) and Arkansas Derby (April 11). This series is quite lucrative and the points are very important.”
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