2019 Southwest Stakes Cheat Sheet

Racing
The field for the 2019 Smarty Jones Stakes breaks from the starting gate at Oaklawn Park, with eventual winner Gray Attempt exiting from the outside post position (far left). (Eclipse Sportswire)

The road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winds through Hot Springs, Ark., on Monday Feb. 18, for the Grade 3, $500,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

The 1 1/16-mile race serves as a local prep for both the $1 million, Grade 2 Rebel Stakes on March 16 and the $1 million, Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 13, and offers qualifying points for the May 4 Kentucky Derby on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers. 

Read on for a closer look at this year’s Southwest contenders in post-position order:


Eclipse Sportswire

1. Gray Attempt

Jockey: Shaun Bridgmohan

Trainer: William H. “Jinks” Fires

Owner: Dwight Pruett

Career record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $184,700

Earnings per start: $46,175

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 102

Pedigree: Graydar – Attempt to Name, by Consolidator

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Gray Attempt led from start to finish in the Smarty Jones Stakes – battling bravely late to prevail by a neck – to extend his winning streak to three and earn a new career-best 102 Equibase Speed Figure. Like his Grade 1-winning sire, Graydar, Gray Attempt has plenty of speed and the stamina to carry it around two turns. If Gray Attempt is allowed to dictate his own terms on the lead, he could be very difficult to catch late in the Southwest. Trainer “Jinks” Fires won the Southwest in 2011 with Archarcharch, who ran 15th in that year’s Kentucky Derby and is his only starter in the first jewel of the Triple Crown to date.


Coady Photography

2. Ninth Street

Jockey: David Cabrera

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: H. V. Farms

Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 1 thirds

Career earnings: $80,586

Earnings per start: $11,512

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 84

Pedigree: Street Boss - Plan Nine, by Mizzen Mast

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Ninth Street needed five starts to earn his first career win, competing in three sprints and a race on grass before winning at one mile in September 2018 at Remington Park. He followed with a six-length romp in the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs before finishing second to fellow Southwest entrant Six Shooter in the Big Drama Stakes on Jan. 5 at Delta in his 3-year-old bow. Based upon Equibase Speed Figures, Ninth Street would need to run a career-best race to be a factor and he’s never competed in a race longer than a mile. Trainer Steve Asmussen has won this race twice, most recently with Tapiture in 2014.


Coady Photography

3. Cutting Humor

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Starlight Racing

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $54,500

Earnings per start: $13,625

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103

Pedigree: First Samurai – Pun, by Pulpit

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After finishing second and third, respectively, in his first two starts, Cutting Humor won a one-mile race by two lengths on Nov. 17. He followed with a runner-up finish to highly regarded Bourbon War on Jan. 18 at Gulfstream Park in his season debut that earned a career-best 103 Equibase Speed Figure. Cutting Humor will be making his stakes debut in the Southwest for trainer Todd Pletcher, who won this race in 2017 with One Liner. Jockey John Velazquez also earned his lone Southwest win on One Liner. Cleverly-named Cutting Humor hails from a nice Claiborne Farm family that has produced Grade 1 winners Zensational and Bolt d’Oro. A $400,000 purchase as a yearling, Cutting Humor is a half-sibling to Grade 2-placed stakes winner Irish You Well.


Keeneland/Coady Photography

4. Boldor

Jockey: Ramon Vazquez

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owners: Ed Orr and Susie Orr

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $60,700

Earnings per start: $20,233

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 101

Pedigree: Munnings – Senate Caucus, by Siphon

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Boldor ran third by a half-length in the Smarty Jones Stakes in his stakes debut and recorded a new career-best Equibase Speed Figure of 101. A half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to stakes winner Avarice, Virginia-bred Boldor sold for $700,000 at the 2018 OBS Spring sale of 2-year-olds in training, which tied for the sixth-highest price at the auction. Boldor has plenty of speed and should be a pace factor in the Southwest, and he could show improved stamina in his second try around two turns. Boldor is from a family that has produced 1992 champion sprinter Rubiano, 2009 champion 3-year-old male Summer Bird, and leading sire Tapit. Trainer Steve Asmussen has won this race twice, most recently with Tapiture in 2014.


Coady Photography

5. Jersey Agenda

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Charles E. Fipke

Career record: 3 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $118,400

Earnings per start: $39,467

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 97

Pedigree: Jersey Town – Risky Agenda, by Dynaformer

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Pacesetter/Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After running second in his career debut on grass, Jersey Agenda has won two straight on the main track, including most recently a 2 ¾-length win going a mile at Oaklawn on Jan. 26. With a win on this track and 97-96 Equibase Speed Figures in his two starts on dirt, Jersey Agenda looks like a legitimate win contender in his stakes debut. Jersey Agenda’s dam (mother), Risky Agenda, is a full sister (same dam [mother], same sire [father]) to multiple Grade 1 winner Riskaverse and the family also has produced 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace and 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist. Trainer Steve Asmussen has won this race twice, most recently with Tapiture in 2014. Jersey Agenda’s jockey, Ricardo Santana Jr., was aboard for Tapiture’s Southwest victory.


Coady Photography

6. Super Steed

Jockey: Terry Thompson

Trainer: Larry Jones

Owners: Michael Pressley and Steed Jackson

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $64,500

Earnings per start: $16,125

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 100

Pedigree: Super Saver – Totally Tucker, by Elusive Quality

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After losing to Southwest entrant Boldor by a head in his debut, Super Steed came back and beat him by six lengths in his second start. After an unplaced finish in the Sugar Bowl Stakes in December, Super Steed finished seventh of eight in the Smarty Jones Stakes and was never a factor. On one hand, the 100 Equibase Speed Figure he earned in his win over Boldor indicates he has the talent to compete here. On the other hand, that win came on a sloppy racetrack in a sprint and Super Steed has been well-beaten in two subsequent stakes starts. Super Steed’s dam (mother), Totally Tucker, is a half-sibling to 2014 Arkansas Derby victor Danza and Grade 1 winner Majestic Harbor. Trainer Larry Jones won this race in 2009 with Old Fashioned; jockey Terry Thompson has won the Southwest twice, most recently with Great Notion in 2003.


Shane Micheli/ Vassar Photography

7. Sueno

Jockey: Corey Lanerie 

Trainer: Keith Desormeaux

Owner: Silverton Hill

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $90,440

Earnings per start: $22,610

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 99

Pedigree: Atreides – Class Above, by Quiet American

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Trainer Keith Desormeaux, who won this race a year ago with My Boy Jack, ships Sueno in from the West Coast coming off a runner-up finish, beaten by a length by Gunmetal Gray, in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes on Jan. 5 at Santa Anita Park. Sueno’s 99 Equibase Speed Figure earned in the Sham was a 10-point improvement from his figure earned when winning the Gold Rush Stakes in December at Golden Gate Fields. Multiple stakes winner Class Above, by Quiet American, is the dam (mother) of Sueno. Owner Silverton Hill, which purchased Sueno for $61,000 as a yearling, won the Southwest in 2003 with Great Notion.


Coady Photography

8. Six Shooter

Jockey: Stewart Elliott

Trainer: Paul E. Holthus

Owners: Dundalk 5, N P H Stable, and Wes Herek 

Career record: 8 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $131,350

Earnings per start: $16,419

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 100

Pedigree: Trappe Shot – Academy Road, by Lemon Drop Kid

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer/Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Six Shooter has proved capable of big efforts through eight career starts but he’s also been inconsistent. His victory in the Big Drama Stakes on Jan. 5 and close fourth in the Smarty Jones show he can compete at this level, but his 11th-place finish in the Remington Springboard Mile Stakes is a reminder that he’s also capable of a clunker. Six Shooter will add blinkers for the Southwest to help keep him focused early and closer to the pace than he was in the Smarty Jones. Canadian champion Poetically is the grandam (maternal grandmother) of Six Shooter. Trainer Paul Holthus is the son of and former assistant to Bob Holthus, who died in November 2011 and won this race a record five times, most recently with Lawyer Ron in 2006. Jockey Stewart Elliot won the Southwest in 2004 with eventual Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Smarty Jones and in 2007 aboard Teuflesberg.


Chelsea Durand/NYRA photo

9. Bankit

Jockey: Jose Ortiz 

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owners: Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing

Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 3 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $330,625

Earnings per start: $47,232

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 98

Pedigree: Central Banker – Sister in Arms, by Colonel John

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker/Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After a fast-closing runner-up finish by a head in the Remington Springboard Mile Stakes in December, Bankit was sent off as the 3-2 favorite in the Smarty Jones Stakes and never really fired when running sixth, beaten by 6 ¼ lengths. In the first four starts of his career, Bankit was very effective setting or pressing the pace in sprints and it would not be a surprise to see him race closer to the pace in the Southwest than he did in the Smarty Jones. He’s a serious contender at his best. Trainer Steve Asmussen has won this race twice, most recently with Tapiture for Bankit’s co-owner Winchell Thoroughbreds in 2014.


Eclipse Sportswire

10. Long Range Toddy

Jockey: Richard Eramia

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Willis Horton Racing

Career record: 5 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $351,125

Earnings per start: $70,225

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 102

Pedigree: Take Charge Indy – Pleasant Song, by Unbridled’s Song

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker/Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Long Range Toddy extended his winning streak to three with a victory in the Remington Springboard Mile Stakes in December before coming up a neck short when second to Gray Attempt in the Smarty Jones Stakes in his 3-year-old debut. Despite the defeat, Long Range Toddy earned a new career-best 102 Equibase Speed Figure and continued his trend of improving his speed figure with each race. He has shown some versatility by winning stakes while pressing the pace and rallying from farther back. Trainer Steve Asmussen has won this race twice, most recently with Tapiture in 2014.


11. Olympic Runner

Jockey: David Cohen

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: Gary Barber

Career record: 2 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $33,800

Earnings per start: $16,900

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 112

Pedigree: Gio Ponti – Nadadora, by Carson City

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Pacesetter/Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: It’s difficult to evaluate Olympic Runner’s most recent race – and first career victory – because nine horses were scratched when it was taken off the turf and moved to a sealed/sloppy main track. The 112 Equibase Speed Figure indicates Olympic Runner ran a very fast race in rolling to a 5 ¾-length win, but it is fair to ask if the victory was aided by a sloppy track and suspect main-track competition. That makes the Gio Ponti gelding, who hails from the family of 2008 Kentucky Derby runner-up Eight Belles, a big wild card in this race. Owner Gary Barber and trainer Mark Casse also have Lecomte Stakes winner War of Will, who is entered in the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford on Feb. 16.

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!