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The second of four Oaklawn Park-based Kentucky Derby prep races is set to go this Monday with the running of the Southwest Stakes (G3). A field of nine 3-year-olds will take aim at the $500,000 purse, and several runners from the Smarty Jones Stakes are making return appearances. The Southwest is part of a special 10-race President’s Day Card that also features the Razorback Handicap (G3) and the Bayakoa Stakes (G3). Local post time for the Southwest is 5:09 PM CT.
Gold Street, who won the Smarty Jones last time out, returns as the headliner. The Steve Asmussen trainee has won three straight, including the Sugar Bowl Stakes two back at Fair Grounds. Asmussen will also run Shoplifted and Silver Prospector in this spot, both of whom also exit the Smarty Jones. Gold Street will break from post 4, Shoplifted from slot 3, and Silver Prospector from gate 2.
Trainer Todd Pletcher ships Chase Tracker in for his first start since finishing third as a 2-year-old in the Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct. The Verrazano colt was also third in the Nashua Stakes (G3) two starts back before breaking his maiden at Parx. Pletcher will send his top jockey John Velazquez in for the ride, with the duo breaking from post 6.
One intriguing prospect is Answer In, who makes his 3-year-old debut after a close runner-up finish in the Remington Park Springboard Mile. The colt broke his maiden nicely at second asking at Churchill Downs against maiden special weight company before that close stakes loss. He’ll get Javier Castellano aboard once again when he breaks from gate 9.
The full field from the rail out: Wells Bayou, Silver Prospector, Shoplifted, Gold Street, American Butterfly, Chase Tracker, Villainous, Taishan, and Answer In.
#9 Answer In – Trainer Brad Cox has this one ready to roll with a very solid workout pattern since this head loss in the Remington Park Springboard Mile to round out his 2-year-old year. He was unable to work out a smooth trip in that race, which probably cost him the victory. This time around, he’s drawn the far outside post, meaning he should stay out of any traffic trouble. His stablemate Wells Bayou should be able to press the pace, which sets up Answer In to secure a perfect stalking position behind the leaders. If he gets that type of positioning, then he will be hard to hold off down the lane.
#2 Silver Prospector – I’ll give this one a second chance after a non-effort last time out in the Smarty Jones Stakes. He is better than what he showed that day, which was on full display two starts back, when he won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. It’s crazy to think he defeated Tiz the Law – now the top-rated Kentucky Derby prospect – in that spot. Silver Prospector should benefit from more pace this time around, while also stretching out in distance. It’s a good sign that Ricardo Santana Jr. is sticking around to ride as well.
#4 Gold Street – There is no doubt the Smarty Jones Stakes winner can make it two in row at Oaklawn in this event, especially considering he’s facing a lot of the same horses he faced last time out. He’s done enough to prove he is one you must respect. The pace scenario should be a bit different this time around, though, while there is a chance he’ll have to run this one over a dry track. There are enough question marks to go against him for the win; however, he is one that could steal it on the front end again if the trip works out.
#6 Chase Tracker – It’s always a good sign when Pletcher ships one over from Gulfstream Park, especially when John Velazquez joins him for the trip. Chase Tracker has been working strongly at Palm Beach Downs for his 3-year-old debut, while Pletcher has picked a perfect spot for him. The only question mark is the race he exits, which a third-place finish in the Remsen Stakes (G2). The top two finishers from that race have not come back to run well, while Chase Tracker was well behind them at the wire that day. That makes him tough to put on top here; however, he still is a horse you need to play in multi’s.
#3 Shoplifted – At this point, we seem to know what this horse is all about. He is definitely classy enough to run in the big races, which has been put on display several times. It just doesn’t seem like he has the the talent or turn of foot to do big things, though, which is why he’ll always be an exotic type of play. There is no question this horse is honest, so you can expect him to come with some kind of a run late, with a shot to round out the trifecta or superfecta.
#5 American Butterfly – The Coach brings a sneaky horse into this race, who is coming off a tremendous runner-up effort against allowance company last time out, where he was a head away from victory. It’s obvious Lukas has him feeling good coming into the race, with distance being the only real question mark. His pedigrees suggests two-turns should suit him fine; however, he has struggled going long. He is still a playable horse in this spot, though, especially if he can repeat his last race.
#8 Taishan – Let’s see if he can bounce back in this spot after a poor effort last time out in the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. He was thought to be one of the top prospects running in that spot, as he was bet down to 2/1, but he ran a distance fourth. There is no doubt he’s better than that effort, which makes him extremely interesting at decent odds. If he can get back to his top form, then he’ll be a factor.
#1 Wells Bayou – Last time out Gold Street was able to get away with easy early fractions, which led to him winning the Smarty Jones Stakes with ease. This time around, you can expect Wells Bayou to put pressure on him early, which will make things interesting. He may not be capable of making an impact late in this race; however, this horse will be a part of things out of the gate.
#7 Villainous – A sharp maiden victory earned him a chance here; however, he still looks to have some improving to do in the speed figure department to take the next step forward. Still, it’s worth a shot for him today, especially to get a gauge on where he’s at in this stage of the game
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