2015 Southwest Stakes Preview Part 2
This post may seem very similar to another Southwest Stakes Preview and that is due to a rescheduling of the race. The Grade 3 Southwest Stakes was scheduled to be run on President’s Day, February 16, but an ice storm forced Oaklawn to cancel the card on Monday. Instead, the track decided to postpone the race until this weekend and will run the Southwest Stakes on Sunday, February 22.
Surprisingly, there have been only a few horses who opted to go elsewhere for the weekend stakes races from the original field. In fact, 10 of the original 12 entrants in Monday’s race return for Sunday’s edition. Only War Story and J S Bach went elsewhere while Hillbilly Royalty threw his hat in for this race.
This race will still feature points awarded to the top four finishers in the 10-4-2-1 allotment of Kentucky Derby Leaderboard Points. The 11 three-year olds will race a mile and a sixteenth on the main track for a purse of $300,000.
The Southwest Stakes is carded as the eighth of 9 races on Sunday with a post time of 5:42 PM Eastern Time. Free past performances can be found here.
1. Bayerd (5-1 Morning Line) – After breaking his maiden by 11 lengths in his second start, he won 2 of his next 3 races in stakes competition before heading to the Smarty Jones Stakes last time out. He finished second in that race behind Far Right and after Mr. Z bore out in deep stretch. It was a solid race but he had every opportunity to draw off and win. His ceiling here is underneath.
2. Majestico (30-1 ML) – His first four starts were all on turf including the grade 3 Bourbon where he finished fourth despite being a maiden in that race. His fourth start on turf was his maiden breaker and he moved to dirt for his next two starts. He has not been competitive in those two starts and given the quality of this field, he will have another tough start here.
3. Hillbilly Royalty (7-2 ML) – He started his career at Remington Park on November 22 going a mile when he pulled clear in the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths. After a two and a month break, he resurfaced here at Oaklawn on February 6 in an optional claiming $62,500. He went gate-to-wire in that affair to win by 4 1/2 lengths going 1 1/16 miles. Now he comes into this race off those two wins and he should be able to control the pace from the slot (the rest of the speed horses are to his outside). He makes sense as a top pick here and is fortunate this race was postponed by 6 days.
4. Private Prospect (12-1 ML) – He finished fourth in the Smarty Jones Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths, but he was running evenly throughout much of the race. Prior to that he was 9th in the grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and second in the grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity. He rates at an outsider here, but may hit the superfecta ticket.
5. Bold Conquest (10-1 ML) – He has run decently in all four of his starts beginning with his two maiden races at Saratoga. He was second by three lengths in his debut before winning his second start by a head. He finished second again in the grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill before a third place finish in the grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity. That start was more than four months ago and he may need this race.
6. Far Right (5-2 ML) – His last race was the Smarty Jones Stakes where he burst through on the rail to win by nearly 2 lengths. Prior to that he had back-to-back third place finishes in the grade 3 Delta Jackpot and the listed Street Sense Stakes. He had a solid pace to run at last time, but there does not appear to be as much speed. If he runs back to his last race, he will be close at the finish line.
7. Phenomenal Phoenix (30-1 ML) – He started his career at Remington Park with a third place finish before crushing his foes in his second start by 5 1/2 lengths. He stepped up into stakes competition in his third start and finished fourth by 6 lengths. Last time out, he was entered in an optional claiming $75,000 and finished second by a length. He is adding blinkers for this race, but he has to make a vast improvement to contend.
8. The Truth or Else (20-1 ML) – This son of Yes It’s True needed four starts to break his maiden and then went on to start in three straight grade 1 or 2 races. The first two resulted in third place finishes while the last one was a sixth place finish where he lost by 16 lengths. His latest race was on November 29 and he has been working well in the morning. The feeling here is that he will need this race.
9. Kantune (12-1 ML) – It has taken this guy a while to break his maiden, which he did last time out in his seventh start. To his credit, he has not run poorly in any of his 7 career starts with his worst finish being fourth by 3 lengths. He will be near the lead and if the pace is slow enough perhaps he can hang on for a piece.
10. Bold Animaux (30-1 ML) – He broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park West in October over the turf course before being crushed in the Juvenile Turf Stakes for Florida breds. He has raced 5 times in his career, all on turf with the last race in a $40,000 open claiming race. This is a very odd spot for him to try dirt and appears to be a deserved longshot.
11. Mr. Z (3-1 ML) – He is the most experienced runner in this field with 9 starts and the last 8 have come in stakes competition. The biggest concern for this runner is two-fold. First, he has 9 starts with only 1 win, but 4 seconds, and 2 thirds. The other concern is his last race when he veered out badly in deep stretch and finished third. He is certainly talented and classy, but his inability to win makes him a dangerous proposition at short odds.
From a win perspective, this race comes down to #3 Hillbilly Royalty and #6 Far Right. The only other horse that could win here is #1 Bayerd while a stand is going to be taken against #11 Mr. Z after his bizarre stretch run in the Smarty Jones. #4 Private Prospect could hit the trifecta or superfecta ticket if things break his way.
1. Hillbilly Royalty
2. Far Right
4. Private Prospect
Do not forget to come back and read the recap of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes on Sunday night and check out the future Kentucky Derby prep races here.