Southwest Stakes 2020: Odds and analysis for Monday's race

February 14, 2020 03:08pm
Southwest Stakes 2020: Odds and analysis for Monday's race
Photo: Coady Photography

Monday's Grade 3, Southwest Stakes is the final prep race for the 2020 Kentucky Derby offering the top four finishers the 10-4-2-1 spread of qualifying points. To be run on Oaklawn Park's Presidents Day card, the Southwest features nine 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles.

The three colts from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen already sport a win on the Derby trail, whereas another five contenders come into the race with only a maiden victory to their credit.

Smarty Jones in 2004 was the last Southwest winner to go on to victory in the Run for the Roses.

The Southwest is carded as race nine out of 10 with post time scheduled for 5:43 p.m. ET. Here's a look at the field with morning line odds projected by Horse Racing Nation:
 

Wells Bayou [ML 8-1 – Lookin At Lucky – B. Cox/F. Geroux – 3: 2-0-0 - $95,293] Interestingly, Wells Bayou sold at auction three times, twice at Keeneland as a yearling and then as a 2-year-old for $105,000 in Ocala. Under the care of Brad Cox, he has caught wet tracks in all three of his starts, which include a debut victory at Keeneland as the favorite and an allowance score going a mile at Oaklawn in his 3-year-old debut. Wells Bayou drew off to win by four lengths while racing on the front end to earn a spot in this field. Live longshot.

Silver Prospector [ML 6-1 – Declaration of War – S. Asmussen/R. Santana Jr. – 7: 2-0-2 - $263,051] He began his career with three starts on the grass, then broke his maiden at Keeneland in his dirt debut while pressing the pace. Asmussen moved him immediately to stakes competition with a third in the Street Sense and then a big score in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs when he showed an off-the-pace running style. Silver Prospector got farther behind than usual in the Smarty Jones last time at Oaklawn before rallying for fourth. Board hitter.
 

Shoplifted [ML 5-1 – Into Mischief – S. Asmussen/B. Hernandez Jr. – 6: 2-1-1 - $400,500] This Asmussen runner was an easy debut winner at Saratoga as part of an odds-on entry when he stalked and drew off to win by four lengths. He then ran second in the Hopeful (G1) behind his highly regarded stablemate, Basin. Santa Anita was not to his liking in two Grade 1s last fall, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Finding the going in the Midwest more to his liking, he won the Remington Springboard Mile and was third in the Smarty Jones, entering this spot as the highest earner in the field. Use underneath.

Gold Street [ML 3-1 – Street Boss – S. Asmussen/M. Garcia – 6: 3-2-0 - $225,218] Riding a three-race winning streak, with only victories on wet surfaces, this Asmussen runner likes to be part of the early pace. Overlooked in the Smarty Jones at odds of 10-1, he took them all the way and drew off to win by almost three lengths. Earlier in his career, Gold Street registered two place finishes on fast tracks, but clearly the slop moved him up. Early weather forecasts say that there is a 40% chance of showers on Monday. Use underneath.

American Butterfly [ML 20-1 – American Pharoah – D. W. Lukas/D. Cannon – 7: 1-1-1 - $103,519] As is often the case with runners from the Lukas barn, this son of American Pharoah is long on experience with six starts as a 2-year-old which included a second-start maiden score at Saratoga followed by three ambitious stakes appearances. This year he has just one start with a head loss in an Oaklawn allowance after a strong closing move. Now he stretches back out to two turns for just the second time. Toss.
 

Chase Tracker [ML 8-1 – Verrazano – T. Pletcher/J. Velazquez – 3: 1-0-2] - $93,000] Third in last year's Remsen (G2), this colt will make his 2020 debut while shipping to Oaklawn from Todd Pletcher’s Palm Beach Downs base in Florida. It was two quick recent workouts that prompted Pletcher to send Chase Tracker back into action on the Derby Trail. The $67,000 yearling purchase will need to make a step forward to improve on his two show finishes at Aqueduct at the end of last year. Use underneath.

Villainous [ML 20-1 – Wicked Strong – J. Englehart/D. Cohen – 2: 1-0-0 - $51,420] The lightly raced son of a Wood Memorial winner was a recent maiden winner on a muddy track at Oaklawn going two turns against a field of nine. He has only one other start, which was a throw out debut at Aqueduct in December. Making the jump from that first stalking victory to a Grade 3 on the Derby trail will require a step forward. Trainer Jeremiah Englehart, who is known for his work with young horses, has a string at Oaklawn for the first time. Toss.

Taishan [ML 20-1 – Twirling Candy – R. Baltas/M. Gutierrez – 3: 1-0-0 - $37,220] Taishan will represent California in the Southwest with Bob Baffert choosing not to send a runner here. This colt faced a tough field in his debut that included Ginobili and Honor A. P. but then got his maiden win while stretching out to a mile. In the Sham (G3) at Santa Anita, he ran into Authentic’s big victory. Improvement will be needed in this tough field of stakes winners. Toss.

Answer In [ML 2-1 – Dialed In – B. Cox/J. Castellano – 3: 1-2-0 - $153,412] Answer In makes his 3-year-old debut in the Southwest after three promising juvenile races. He was slow to start in his debut at Churchill Downs, rallied to get the lead, and was nailed at the wire. With a clean trip, he rallied and drew off to break his maiden by more than six lengths while stretching out to seven furlongs. Trainer Brad Cox moved him to the Derby trail in the Springboard Mile, and that day he was second by a head after getting the worst trip of a top three that finished within a half-length of each other. He should appreciate the added distance as he makes his 2020 debut. Top choice.

Summary
: I am among the handicappers who have been waiting for Answer In to return to the Kentucky Derby trail. He is just a nose and a head away from winning all three of his starts as a 2-year-old. However, he was well bet in those races, including the Springboard Mile where he was 3-5. The son of Dailed In got better with added distance. But we will have to look for some betting value in the exotic wagers because, once again, he is likely to be the favorite.

The other Cox runner, Wells Bayou, is one who could hit the board at decent odds. The trio of Asmussen runners, each with their own Derby trail victories, are likely to take money at the windows and can’t be ignored as players for the trifecta.

Chase Tracker will come with unusually high odds for a Pletcher trainee and he, too, looks eligible to hit underneath on tickets.

 

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