Kentucky Derby 'hope, but not a fever' in Silver Prospector's camp

Kentucky Derby 'hope, but not a fever' in Silver Prospector's camp
Photo: Coady Photography

Silver Prospector turned in a golden performance Monday afternoon at Oaklawn Park, earning a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 97, for his one-length victory in the Southwest Stakes (G3).

The 1 1/16-mile Southwest was redemption for Silver Prospector, who was coming off a non-threatening fourth in the Smarty Jones Stakes, Oaklawn’s first of four 2020 Kentucky Derby points races. A son of turf standout Declaration of War, Silver Prospector was already on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard after closing his 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) Nov. 30 at Churchill Downs for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and Colorado owners Ed and Susie Orr.

Silver Prospector earned 10 points for his Southwest victory and has 21 overall to rank sixth on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. Points are used to determine starting preference if the race draws more than 20 entrants.

Asmussen said Silver Prospector will be pointed next for the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) on March 14, the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 11. The Rebel will offer 85 points to the top four finishers (50-20-10-5) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby.

“We certainly aren’t there yet,” said Ed Orr, whose numerous business interests in Greeley, Colo., include cattle and real estate. “We’re going to have to have another good showing somewhere, I think, with the points system to make it. We obviously have hope, but not a fever.”

Silver Prospector was much closer to the pace in the Southwest, which wasn’t surprising after tipping his hand in a sharp 5-furlong work in company Feb. 5. Silver Prospector finished heads up with stablemate Bankit, a multiple stakes winner who ran second, beaten a head, approximately a half-hour before the Southwest in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses.

Silver Prospector, along the rail, tracked front-runner Wells Bayou through solid fractions of :46.60 for a half-mile and 1:11.72 for three-quarters. Santana guided Silver Prospector off the rail turning for home and collared the determined Wells Bayou on the outside in midstretch. Silver Prospector ran 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:43.01 and paid $11.40. The winning time for the Razorback was 1:43.00.

“I knew I had a ton of horse,” said Santana, who recorded his 500th career Oaklawn victory Sunday aboard the Asmussen-trained Icecap. “He was working unbelievable the last two weeks. We had a lot of confidence in him.”

The Orrs purchased Silver Prospector for $190,000 at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. Asmussen, a 10-time Oaklawn training champion, was an underbidder on the gray colt, Ed Orr said.

Overall, Silver Prospector has a 3-0-2 record from eight lifetime starts and earnings of $713,051.

“We’re proud of him,” Orr said. “That’s a tough horse.”

Other locally based horses pointing for the 1 1/16-mile Rebel include Smarty Jones runner-up Three Technique for trainer Jeremiah Englehart. The Asmussen-trained Basin is under consideration for the $300,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) March 7 at Aqueduct and the Rebel, the colt’s owner, Jackpot Farm, said in a text message Tuesday night. Basin, who is based at Fair Grounds, hasn’t started since winning the $350,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1) Sept. 2 at Saratoga.

Nominations to the Rebel close March 5.

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