President’s Day Special: 2018 Southwest Stakes Preview


February 18th 2018 – Updated February 19th

Coming up tomorrow on President’s Day, another important point paying race on the Kentucky Derby trail with the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. I love Derby trail races at Oaklawn because they always attract some of the top talent from the Hall of Fame trainers like Bob Baffert, Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen and D. Wayne Lukas.

This race will be no different with Baffert entering Smarty Jones Stakes winner Mourinho, Pletcher shipping in the Pioneerof the Nile colt Road to Damascus, Lukas entering the Hopeful Stakes winner Sporting Chance and Kentucky Club and Asmussen entering Combatant and Retirement Fund.

Overall, this field has four colts who were in the most recent Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool #2: Sporting Chance, Mourinho, Retirement Fund and Combatant. Yesterday’s Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds only had two colts in Pool #2: Principe Guilherme and Instilled Regard. Neither colt performed to expectations in the Risen Star with Instilled Regard finishing 4th and Principe Guilherme finishing 7th. The D. Wayne Lukas trained colt Bravazo won the Risen Star at 21-1 odds and picked up 50 Derby points, enough historically to gain entry in the Kentucky Derby field.

Below are the Southwest Stakes entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds:

The Southwest Stakes  – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #9 at Oaklawn Park – Post-Time: 5:10 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. My Boy Jack (119) – Desormeaux /Desormeaux – 12/1
2. Sporting Chance (117) – Saez/Lukas – 9/2
3. Principe Guilherme (115) – Geroux/Asmussen – 4/1 (SCRATCHED – Ran in Risen Star)
4. Mourinho (122) –  Van Dyke/Baffert – 2/1
5. Road to Damascus (115) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 15/1
6. Seven Trumpets (115) – Albarado/Romans – 10/1
7. Retirement Fund (115) – Brighmohan/Asmussen – 15/1
8. Zing Zang (115) – Lanerie/Asmussen – 15/1
9. Kentucky Club (115) – Vazquez/Lukas – 30/1
10. Combatant (115) – Santana Jr/Asmussen – 6/1
11. Ezmosh (117) – Stevens/Cox – 12/1

Race Commentary: Will D. Wayne Lukas pull off another upset like he did in Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes? Sporting Chance is viewed as the best colt in his barn this Derby season and he starts in the #2 post which has been the winningest post this year at Oaklawn Park.  However, he hasn’t raced since last September in the Hopeful Stakes where he nearly coughed up the lead at the finish to Free Drop Billy. 

The only undefeated colt in this field is the Steve Asmussen-trained colt Retirement Fund. He’s 2-for-2 at Fair Grounds but will be stepping up in class for the first time. The West Point Thoroughbreds-owned Seven Trumpets, trained by Dale Romans, finished 2nd to Firenze Fire in the 1 Mile Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct. 

Overall, I like Mourinho for the win with a combination of Combatant, Sporting Chance, Seven Trumpets and Road to Damascus rounding out the Superfecta. But please note that the race favorite hasn’t won the Southwest Stakes in the last four runnings so expect the unexpected and bet accordingly.

Update: There are no other scratches and the track is muddy. I don’t like betting on muddy races since some horses don’t take well to the slop.

On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday March 3rd.


The Road to the Kentucky Derby — The 2018 Jerome Stakes


January 11th 2018

The month of January begins the unveiling of how well last year’s promising 2 year-old colts have developed over the layoff. Some improve by leaps and bounds, other regress. The Sham Stakes last Saturday (shown below) told us that the Bob Baffert-trained colt McKinzie is a serious Kentucky Derby contender. He’s a perfect 3 for 3 thus far. However, unlike many of the other Kentucky Derby hopefuls, McKinzie had remained in training since he debut in late October of last year.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby trail continues this Saturday with another qualifying point paying race at Aqueduct with the Jerome Stakes. 17 Derby points are up for grabs. The Jerome Stakes has been run since 1866 and has some notable race winners in Kelso, Bold RulerTom Fool and Afleet. The John Servis-trained colt Firenze Fire is the 3/5 race favorite. The race record is 1:33:20 held by Noble Nashua (1981).

Below are the post-positions, weights, jockey assignments and morning line odds.

The Jerome Stakes

The Jerome Stakes – 1 Mile – Race #8 at Aqueduct – Post-Time: Saturday January 13th at 2:50 PM CST. Televised by TVG

1. Coltandmississippi (118) – McCarthy/Pletcher – 6/1
2. Seven Trumpets (118) – Lopez/Romans – 3/1
3. Regalian (116) – Reyes/Englehart – 20/1
4. Factor This (116) – Davis/Barker – 30/1
5. Smooth B (118) – RoccoJr/Reid Jr – 10/1
6. Old Time Revival (116) – Alvarado/Decker – 10/1
7. Firenze Fire (122) – Franco/Servis – 3/5
8. Glenwood (118) – Carmouche/Wilkinson – 50/1

Race Commentary:  Overall, I like two colts in this field: Seven Trumpets and Firenze Fire. And I think the race will come down to these two. Firenze Fire won the Champagne Stakes and finished 7th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Seven Trumpets has won his last two starts. However, keep an eye on Coltandmississippi. He is a paternal half brother to American Pharoah and he’s trained by Todd Pletcher. Coltandmississsippi and has been inconsistent in four career starts (two wins, a 5th and 10th place finish) thus far. But you have to love the pedigree/trainer combo.

Overall, you never know what to expect with these January Derby trail races with colts coming off layoffs. So this isn’t a good betting race but one a great one to watch anyway. Perhaps a new star will emerge.

On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park scheduled for Monday January 15th–Martin Luther King Day. After that, my next blog will be one on the 2018 Pegasus World Cup contenders. I will have Smarty Jones Stakes preview out by Sunday night at the latest.