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HOT SPRINGS, AR – Ed and Susie Orr’s Silver Prospector bounced back from an off-form effort last time out, scooting clear with a sharp move in the stretch to win the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
Breaking from post 2 as the 9/2 third choice under Ricardo Santana, Jr., Silver Prospector was patiently handled along the inside heading into the clubhouse turn. Up front, the rail-drawn Wells Bayou sprung sharply from the gate and set off on an uncontested pace, posting fractions of :22.89, :46.60, and 1:11.72.
Still in hand through the far turn as he raced just off of the leader’s heels, Silver Prospector tipped out at the top of the stretch, splitting Wells Bayou and the 8/5 favorite Answer In. Given a shake of the reins at the 1/8 pole, Silver Prospector drifted slightly but edged away late under strong handling.
Kept to task through to the wire, the Steve Asmussen-trained Silver Prospector crossed 1 length clear in a final time of 1:43.01 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“The last two weeks, the horse was training unbelievable,” said Santana, Jr., who retained the mount after Silver Prospector’s disappointing fourth in the Smarty Jones Stakes last month. “We didn’t get any rain, so the track was just how he liked it. He pulled me in a great spot the first 1/4 and I just became his passenger.”
The Brad Cox-trained duo of Wells Bayou and Answer In rounded out the trifecta with 5 1/2 lengths separating them. The bettors’ choice drew the far outside post in the field of nine, a position that led to him being stuck five-wide into the clubhouse turn.
“I was proud of both horses,” Cox said. “They ran extremely well. Obviously, set some nice hot fractions, or some hot fractions, and was able continue with a nice run down the lane. I was very pleased with them both. We’ll regroup with them and see what’s next.”
Shoplifted trailed early but rallied up to fourth over Taishan. Behind him came Villainous, American Butterfly, Chase Tracker, and the Smarty Jones winner Gold Street to complete the order of finish.
The Southwest is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Silver Prospector earned 10 points for the win, with Wells Bayou receiving 4 for second, Answer In 2 for third, and Shoplifted 1 for fourth.
Silver Prospector’s win was his second against stakes foes, having won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) in late November against a field that included future Kentucky Derby prep winners Tiz the Law and Enforceable. The 3-year-old son of Declaration of War improved his overall record to 8-3-0-2 with $713,051 earned.
“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.”
Silver Prospector returned $11.40 to win, $6 to place, and $3.40 to show. Wells Bayou brought back $9.20 to place and $5 to show, while Answer In paid $3 to show.
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