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UPDATE: Southwest Stakes: Odds, Analysis, Free PPs

Oaklawn Park Racing Feature

Keep an eye on Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds because the winner could signal the outcome of the 2018 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on Presidents’ Day.

The G3 Southwest Stakes for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles for a purse of $500,000 is a 10-4-2-1 points prep race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in May.

The Lukas trainee Kentucky Club was cross-entered in the Risen Star as well as the Southwest but will go at Oaklawn where he was the easy winner of a $30,000 maiden claiming race in his last start.

The Asmussen runner Principe Guilherme who was second in the Lecomte to Instilled Regard was cross-entered here but will remain in New Orleans for the Risen Star where the real prize is the 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby prep points.

Southwest Stakes Odds, Analyis, Free PPs

From the rail out, here’s a look at the field for the Southwest Stakes:

1. My Boy Jack – Son of Creative Cause who was 5th and 3rd behind I’ll Have Another in the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness respectively, will be stretching out beyond 1 mile for the first time and should appreciate the added distance. Only win came on turf at Santa Anita from way back. And was 7th in the BC Juvenile Turf last November. His best race came last time out when switched to dirt in the G3 Sham where he was put into the race from the start. Look for him to be into it early from the rail.

2. Sporting Chance – Lukas runner won the G1 Hopeful in September as his last start. That’s a 5 month layoff for a horse who’ll be stretching out around two turns for the first time. Son of Tiznow has plenty of early speed and is sitting on multiple bullet moves in preparation for this. Expect him to be in front for the first half mile as the rabbit for the other Lukas entry Kentucky Club, if he goes. Either way, it will be a challenge for this guy to carry his speed all the way home.

3. Principe Guilherme – One of three entered here by Asmussen and it’ll be interesting to see where this guy lands. Won first two in easy fashion as he climbed the ranks to a second place finish as the favorite last time out in the G3 Lecomte. Cross-entered here and the Risen Star where he would have to face the Lecomte winner Instilled Regard if he stays in New Orleans. The runner-up in his two back win by 11 came back to again loose by 11 lengths, making this guy’s chart less impressive. And the fact that he only beat his tiring stablemate, Snapper Sinclair, by a neck for second in the Lecomte tells us he may not be all that.

4. Mourinho – It wouldn’t be the Southwest without a Baffert runner. And this guy has a winning race over the track last time out in the Smarty Jones. Set all the pace in the 1 mile race to win easily as the heavy favorite. Son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, he’ll be stretching out another 1/16 miles with the highest last race Beyer 99 and should be hard to handle considering he broke his maiden by 4+ in his first ever start at Santa Anita when he beat the favorite of this weekend’s bigger points prize Instilled Regard who goes in the Risen Star. Expect him to have 20 points after this race.

5. Road to Damascus – Lightly raced son of Pioneer of the Nile will be sent out by Pletcher for his first start after a maiden win LTO in a SW at Tampa. Of course Pletcher wants to affirm what he thinks he may have, but this is a major step up for a horse who’ll be making his third lifetime start and first vs. winners.

6. Seven Trumpets – If you’re a Firenze Fire fan then you might consider this guy’s second place finish last time out to him in the Jerome. Set the pace that day before tiring in the mud at 1 mile. And Firenze Fire returned in defeat in the G3 Withers won by Avery Island. Does have two victories at Churchill going 6 1/2 but can’t see him adding many points to the 4 he earned in the Jerome.

7. Retirement Fund – Son of Eskendereya, the early favorite for the 2010 Kentucky Derby before an injury sidelined his chances, is now 2 for 2 for Asmussen. Had the rail both times going 1 mile 70 yards at Fair Grounds and could have easily been entered in the Risen Star. So have to wonder whether Asmussen doesn’t see a way forward for his three runners who are entered here vs. Instilled Regard in the tougher Risen Star. Has speed, as does several to his inside, but don’t see him stepping up into graded company to get the win.

8. Zing Zang – This is the 3rd of Asmussen’s entries. And the one with the most upside to get home first with all the speed in the race. Broke his maiden from far back at Fair Grounds in December. And was beaten just 3 lengths for second by his two stablemates in the Lecomte (Replay) last time out when making his first start after maiden score. Like the switch back to Lanerie who was aboard for maiden win. And glad this race is on Monday because by then we’ll already know the winner of the Risen Star.

9. Kentucky Club – Not really much to add to the analysis of this guy that hasn’t already been made in the Risen Star, except that he really stepped it up when Lukas added blinkers to his armor two back. Sire Oxbow only won three races for Lukas, the biggest being the 2013 Preakness. As much as there are positives to this guy, we suspect this is too tough a spot.

10. Combatant – The fourth and final runner to consider from the Asmussen barn, this guy has a win and two seconds from four starts so far. Was the beaten favorite in the Springboard Mile two back. And followed Mourinho around the track last time out in the Smarty Jones to finish second. Adds a little distance to his 1 mile resume but they’ll have to try a different strategy to make up three lengths from his last start.

11. Ezmosh – UPDATE: After watching Bravazo win the Risen Star on Saturday, it’s a good idea to reexamine this guy’s chances. 35% winning trainer Cox calls on Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens for the leg up on this speedster. Expect Stevens to push on the gas to get position from the start. Was 9 clear of the show horse LTO here in an OC$62K which is proving to be a key race. On paper it appears he has distance concerns but his sire Tizway won the the G1 1 1/8 miles Whitney Handicap at Saratoga in the final start of his career. Beware!

Southwest Stakes PPs

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