Elite Alex is a young colt I became aware of sometime in late August or early September of last year while researching pedigrees. He was not in training at that time but I made a note to keep watch for him. Tomorrow Elite Alex makes his stakes debut as the 4-1 morning line second-choice in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
This will be the third start for Elite Alex who made his 3-year-old debut last month in a one mile optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park. He was not entered for a claim in that race and despite a six-month layoff Elite Alex was installed as the 1.20 to 1 favorite.
Elite Alex missed the break and trailed in last place, seven lengths off the pace, until the half when he made his move and closed ground to narrowly lose by a head. Overall, I was pleased with his run which was not too shabby considering he had been laid off for six months and missed the break at the start of the race.
The pedigree of Elite Alex does not qualify as WOW, nevertheless, it is pretty good and I am looking forward to see how well he performs on the Derby trail. His sire, Afleet Alex, won the 2005 Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1). His damsire is the 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled.
Elite Alex is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line and that line has produced 10 Kentucky Derby winners, 11 Preakness winners and 13 Belmont winners since 1990. That line has also produced eight Southwest winners since 1990.
Elite Alex is trained by Tim Ritchey who also trained Afleet Alex.
Of all the horses in the field, J P’s Gusto has the most stakes racing experience and although he has not raced in over two months, he is the prohibitive 9-5 morning line favorite. I have some reservations about him making his 3-year-old debut at a track where he has never raced before and starting for a new trainer who has a poor win percentage at Oaklawn.
If I use J P’s Gusto in my wagers it will be most likely in the bottom of the exotics.
Two long shots I like are Yankee Passion (8-1) and Archarcharch (10-1).
This will be the fourth start for Yankee Passion who easily won his 3-year-old debut for trainer Larry Jones last month at Oaklawn. Yankee Passion has never run in a route race, but with Yankee Gentleman as his sire and Pleasant Colony as the damsire, the Southwest should be well within his range.
His Brisnet Speed Figures have steadily improved with every race and a bullet work out February 16 indicates that Yankee Passion should be ready to run a good race.
I’m willing to overlook the performance Archarcharch who finished fourth in the Smarty Jones Stakes last month at Oaklawn. I believe Archarcharch is a much better horse than that race would indicate but for some reason, maybe it was the fog, Archarcharch did not run his best that day.
With Arch, the sire of Breeders’ Cup Champion Blame, as his sire, Woodman as his damsire and Nureyev the sire of his second dam, the Southwest should be well with the range of Archarcharch and I look for him to perform better in his second start of the year.
And a bullet work out February 14, the only one he’s fired since training at Oaklawn, indicates that Archarcharch could be ready to run a good race.