Head to Head: Handicapping the 2022 Southwest Stakes

Head to Head: Handicapping the 2022 Southwest Stakes
Photo: Ted McClenning/Eclipse Sportswire

Seven of the thirteen runners of the Smarty Jones Stakes, the local prep for this race, return in the Southwest Stakes (G3). Add two Springboard Mile contenders and a Sham Stakes (G3) winner to the mix, and we get a wide-open race. The 1 1/16 mile event offers ten qualifying points for the 2022 Kentucky Derby.

Laurie Ross of Pedigree Power and Ashley Tamulonis of Coast To Coast sort out the contenders from the pretenders.

ASHLEY

LAURIE

1. Ben Diesel (10-1)

Ben Diesel won at first asking but hasn’t had very good luck in his last two outings, finishing 4th in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and 7th in the Smarty Jones. The son of Will Take Charge has speed but will need to take a couple steps forward to be a threat here. Pass.

Ben Diesel pressed a moderate early pace in the Smarty Jones but backed up in the stretch while racing between horses. He had a similar result in last year's Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). The Dallas Stewart trainee has speed on the rail but must contend with other speed types. Pass.

 

2. Dash Attack (7-2)

This son of Munnings is undefeated in two career starts, with both of those races coming here at Oaklawn. He is proven on off tracks and will finally catch a fast track here. As the 7-2 second choice, I have to go all in. Win contender.

David Cohen gave Dash Attack an excellent trip in the Smarty Jones, closing from seventh to open up by two lengths with his ears pricked. The Ken McPeek trainee finally gets a fast track for his third start and has tactical speed. Win contender.

 

3. Don'tcrossthedevil (30-1)

While undefeated at Remington Park, you must take those two races with a grain of salt considering the caliber of horses that typically race there. When put against some of the very same he will face here, Don’tcrossthedevil was never a factor. Pass.

Don'tcrossthedevil had an eventful first start of his 3-year-old season in the Smarty Jones. First, he was squeezed back and had to steady at the start. Then he was wide on the far turn and continued four-wide throughout the race. The Phil D'Amato trainee made up some ground but ran out of oats in the stretch. Although this son of Cross Traffic looked good in two starts at Remington Park last year, I'll take a wait-and-see approach here. Pass.

 

4. Kavod (12-1)

Kavod is one of the more experienced runners in the field. By Lea, this colt has raced in graded company on both the dirt and turf and is a black-type winner. He was looking good in the Smarty Jones but just could not hold off the top three that day. One to watch for sure. Exotics.

 

Kavod looked like a winner in mid-stretch of the Smarty Jones, but he was a little leg-weary in the final furlong and couldn't hold off Dash Attack's late rally. The Chris Hartman trainee gets back to a fast track and could be in the mix again. Exotics.

 

5. Costa Terra (12-1)

Costa Terra has the potential to be a good one. The colt’s dam Teardrop (Tapit) is a ¾-sibling to both the grade one winner Pyro and the late grade three placed Longview Drive. Additionally, Costa Terra is himself a half-brother to grade three placed Pneumatic. However, breeding isn’t everything, and so far Costa Terra hasn’t shown the talent that is likely hidden away. Perhaps he’s one to watch in the future, but for now, I’ll pass.

 

Costa Terra underperformed as a 2-year-old, but he's been given time to mature. Gun Runner's son is a half-brother to listed winner Pneumatic, who debuted as a 3-year-old. So, is Costa Terra a well-bred underperformer, or will he improve with maturity? I'll take the wait-and-see approach. Pass.

 

6. Osbourne (8-1)

Osbourne’s speed figures put him firmly in the mix with morning line second choice Dash Attack. A gelded son of Tapiture, Osbourne has never been worse than second in three career starts. He looked seasoned in just missing the win in the Springboard Mile, and I suspect he will be a factor here. Exotics.

Osbourne will try to emulate his sire Tapiture with a victory in the Southwest. He gave a gutsy performance in the Springboard Mile and didn't back out when racing in tight quarters between horses in the stretch. However, Osbourne missed the victory by a half-length to the horse on his outside. The Ron Moquett trainee will be in the thick of things, and he could surprise. Moquett won the Southwest in 2015 with Far Right. Exotics.

 

7. Ignitis (10-1)

Ignitis was a surprise third in the Smarty Jones Stakes last out. Prior to that, it took the colt five tries to get his picture taken before running off the board in the Lively Shively Stakes. If he runs back to his Smarty Jones form, look for him to land in the exotics again.

Wayne Lukas is back on the Derby trail with the well-bred Ignitis, who was a fast-closing third in the Smarty Jones. This son of Nyquist has hit the board in six of seven starts, and I expect the same result here. Lukas is sneaky. Exotics.

 

8. Barber Road (5-1)

Like Ignitis, Barber Road also exits the Lively Shively and Smarty Jones. Unlike that rival, Barber Road was second in both races. The pretty gray’s only off the board finish came upon debut. If he gets a better trip than in the Smarty Jones, look for him to give Dash Attack a run for the winner’s share. Win contender.

 

Barber Road got stuck in rush hour traffic in the Smarty Jones but closed to get second place. The John Ortiz trainee has tactical speed and has finished out of the money only once in five starts. Ricardo Santana, Jr. is back, winning at a 22% clip this meet. Win contender.

 

9. Classic Moment (12-1)

Classic Moment will race with blinkers on for the first time for the Southwest after finishing a well-beaten fourth in the Springboard Mile. Considering that he found himself in traffic in only his third start, I think that poor finish can be forgiven. He would need to take a step or two forward, but this son of racing’s favorite bad boy could have something to say at the wire. Exotics.

Classic Moment didn't enjoy his time racing between horses in the Springboard Mile, so he backed out and kept on backing up to a well-beaten fourth. That was his first start after winning his maiden over Cyberknife (6th in Lecomte S.). Classic Moment is bred along the same lines as American Pharoah and is out of a half-sister to Beholder, Into Mischief, and Mendelssohn. Steve Asmussen gave the well-bred colt a second-to-last bullet five-furlong breeze, so he should be ready. Live longshot.

 

10. Newgrange (2-1)

From the controversial Baffert barn, Newgrange enters the Southwest with the highest speed figure in the field. Baffert is always dangerous, no matter where he ships into. Like it or not, Newgrange is a win contender.

Sham (G3) winner Newgrange brings his front-running speed to Arkansas. The Baffert trainee hasn't been threatened in either start, but he may have company on the lead this time. Baffert is hunting for his first Southwest victory since 2013. Win contender, cuz, you know, it's Baffert.

 

 

11. Call Me Jamal (30-1)

Call Me Jamal finally got his picture taken after moving to Oaklawn and trying two turns for the first time. He also dropped from maiden 120K to maiden 84K to get that first win. Outclassed.

Call Me Jamal was all heart in his last race, coming back to win by a head after briefly losing the lead. It was his third start and first at 1 1/16 miles. Unfortunately, trainer Michael Puhich is zero for 15 with last-out maiden winners, according to Stats RaceLens. Pass.

 

12. Vivar (12-1)

Vivar began his career on the turf, where he went 2: 1-0-0. An off-the-turf allowance race resulted in another win, but Vivar has not had much luck since, finishing 6th in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and 5th in the Smarty Jones, the local prep for the Southwest. Like Classic Moment, Vivar will race with first time blinkers in the hopes that it improves his finish. I love the breeding on this colt, but I think he’s up against it. Pass.

 

Vivar made up ground late in the Smarty Jones to miss by 3 1/4 lengths. Not the result Brad Cox wanted, so Vivar gets blinkers and a jock switch to Florent Geroux. Maybe it will help, but Vivar indicates that he's a cut below; none of the horses he beat last year have returned to win. The hardware and jock change could help Vivar hit the board, but I'm not buying into it. Pass.

 

Final Thoughts

Laurie: Favorites have won 30% of the time and hit the board 30% in the last decade. Pace pressers and closers have won eight of the last ten editions of this race.

Last year, Cox, Baffert, and Asmussen conditioned the top three Southwest finishers. The trio is back, but without Essential Quality, Spielberg, and Jackie's Warrior's class. 

Newgrange is the only graded winner in the field. The speedster could take the lead and not look back, but he'll have to deal with other front-running speed. Then, depending on how fast they go early, it could set up for someone just off the pace or a closer.

Ashley: Bob Baffert trained Newgrange, as the only graded stakes winner in the field, is the morning line favorite for obvious reasons; however, second choice Dash Attack has the home track advantage. Additionally, Newgrange drew the ten post in a field of twelve, with speed breaking directly to his inside and outside in the form of Classic Moment and Call Me Jamal. With it being so early in the year, it’s hard to tell just how good some of these will be, but I personally have to go with the colt that obviously loves Oaklawn.

 

SELECTIONS

Ashley

Laurie

#2 Dash Attack (7-2)

#2 Dash Attack (7-2)

#10 Newgrange (2-1)

#10 Newgrange (2-1)

#6 Osbourne (8-1)

#8 Barber Road (5-1)

#8 Barber Road (5-1)

#6 Osbourne (8-1)

 

 



Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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