Monday, February 20, 2012

Southwest Stakes Racing Roundup

It looks like several of the 3-year-old Thoroughbreds shipped in for the $250,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park may have the potential to earn the all-important graded stakes money necessary to qualify for entry into the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

With an overflow field of 21 horses, the Southwest Stakes has been split into two divisions and will be run as races eight and nine on today’s race card.

Longview Drive, the lukewarm 5-2 morning line favorite, was one of my picks in the Sham Stakes (G3) and he heads a field of 11 juveniles that will vie for graded stakes honors in race eight.

In six career starts, Longview Drive has never been out of the money and he comes into today’s race off of a very game third-place finish to Out Of Bounds in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park on January 7. Longview Drive only lost by one length and the final time of 1:34.56 is the kind of performance I like to see in a young colt.

Longview Drive is a full-brother to Pyro who won the Louisiana Derby (G2), Risen Star Stakes (G3) and Northern Dancer Breeders’ Cup Stakes (G3) as a 3-year-old. Longview Drive also looks like he could develop into a decent middle-distance runner and time will tell if he has any classic potential.

If Longview Drive repeats the form of his performance in the Sham Stakes, he will be tough to beat.

Castaway (5-1) is another California runner that ships in for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert. After five previous attempts, Castaway finally broke his maiden in his debut as a 3-year-old and he could be improving at just the right time of year.

In his last race, Castaway led from gate-to-wire and won by 2¼-lengths covering the 8½-furlongs in a very nice time of 1:41.83. His time for the mile was 1:35.19 and for that effort he earned a 102 Brisnet Speed Figure. A repeat of that performance will make him very competitive in today’s race.

Unbridled’s Note (10-1) has not raced in over three months and he’s never ran in a route race but trainer Steve Asmussen must have a lot of confidence his young 3-year-old to enter him in today’s race with only a maiden win to his credit.

Time will tell just how far Unbridled’s Note wants to run but with Unbridled’s Song as his sire and Siberian Express as his damsire, he should not have a problem stretching out to a mile and the 10-1 odds looks very good.

Local Hero and victor of the Smarty Jones Stakes, Junebugred (7-2) will have to improve on his game if he is going to claim graded stakes honors. Junebugred broke his maiden in his second start going a mile 1:36.72 at Aqueduct last November and he’ll have to, at the least, repeat that form if he’s going to make it to the winners circle.

However, with a win at Oaklawn going a mile in the Smarty Jones Stakes and a recent bullet work out, Junebugred appears ready to run a good race.


Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert will send Secret Circle to the starting gate in race nine as the even money favorite.

Secret Circle has never been out of the money in four starts and his most recent effort was a second-place finish to Out Of Bounds in the Sham Stakes. Secret Circle was one of the horses I liked in that race and I like him in the Southwest too.

Secret Circle earned a 105 Brisnet Figure for his effort in the Sham and I think that a mile is probably his optimum distance. He’s been working out good and if he repeats his performance in the Sham he looms as the horse to beat in Division II of the Southwest Stakes.

Adirondack King (6-1) was a young horse I liked in the 7-furlong Pasco Stakes and I like him in today’s race too. He was gaining late in the Pasco and the stretch out to a mile will probably be a better fit for this young colt trained by John Servis who trained Smarty Jones to Kentucky Derby fame and glory.

Lawyer Ron, the sire of Adirondack King, excelled on the Kentucky Derby trail as a 3-year-old, winning the Southwest Stakes (G3), Risen Star Stakes (G3), Rebel Stakes (G3) and Arkansas Derby (G2). Brocco, the damsire of Adirondack King, won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) and Santa Anita Derby (G1).

Jostle, the dam of Adirondack King, was an outstanding racer with over $1.3 million in career earnings and winner of the Alabama Stakes (G1), Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2), and Cotillion Handicap (G2) during her 3-year-old season.

It remains to be seen if Adirondack King has any classic potential but I look for him to be competitive in today’s race.

Honorable mention goes to the local runners Cyber Secret (4-1) Apprehender (10-1) and Pee H Dee (15-1) who look like they could hit the board and be a factor in the exotics.

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