Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Answer In to Southwest Stakes

January 14, 2020 01:00pm
Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Answer In to Southwest Stakes
Photo: Coady Photography

Louisville, Ky., native Brad Cox grew up near Churchill Downs, has won a Kentucky Oaks and appears to have in his shed row the type of fillies to get him back there on the first Friday in May.

But what about Saturday and the 2020 Kentucky Derby?

The trainer is seeking his first Derby starter, with Answer In so far looking like his best shot to pull it off this season. Cox told Oaklawn Park’s publicity department that the Dialed In gelding, a close second last time in the Remington Springboard Mile, is pointing toward the Grade 3, $750,000 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17.

“It was his first time around two turns and not the greatest of trips,” Cox said when looking back at the Springboard Mile.

In the Dec. 15 race, Answer In was bumped at the start, then rallied wide through the far turn. Angled back in, he ran up the rail in a three-horse duel for the lead, finishing a head short of Shoplifted as the race’s odds-on favorite.

“It was a step forward,” Cox added. “He ran a winning race. He was right there and very proud of the effort. He bounced out of it in good shape. We’re hoping he can be a contender in the 3-year-old division.”

Answer In has posted two works in the new year, most recently breezing a half mile Sunday at Oaklawn in 48.80 seconds.

Previously, the Robert LaPenta and Madaket Stables color bearer ran greenly in his Sept. 14 debut at Churchill Downs before coming back to break his maiden Oct. 27, also under the Twin Spires.

Between those starts, Cox said in a recent interview with Gene McLean of The Pressbox, Cox ensured his horse had plenty of time off to receive a better education in the mornings. The emphasis was on rating and relaxing, plus blinkers came off. Answer In responded by chasing the pace before drawing off by 5 1/4 lengths.

Running back in the Springboard Mile, Cox was fine with being edged out by Shoplifted, who he called “a very nice, accomplished horse that obviously had a seasoning edge.”

“I think this horse is only going to get better as the year goes on,” Cox added to The Pressbox. “He’s a really nice horse we think a lot of.”

The Southwest is the second of four points-paying Derby preps this season at Oaklawn, with the Rebel Stakes (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1) following it. Before that trio of races, Oaklawn opens next Friday, Jan. 24, with the Smarty Jones Stakes.

Answer In was nominated, but that’s “too much, too quick for a young horse, in my opinion,” Cox said. “Obviously, that Triple Crown trail is very demanding. Those races are won in the spring, not in the winter.”


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About the Derby Radar

Back for the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail, Horse Racing Nation's Derby Radar seeks to identify promising maiden, allowance and even stakes winners who could target points-paying preps down the line. We'll cover the buzz horses, of course, then using a systematic approach based on past years' Derby contenders identify other talented colts moving up the ladder.

Did we miss one? Email editor Jonathan Lintner ( if you know of a horse that should be on the radar.

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