2020 Southwest Stakes Cheat Sheet

Gates open for the 2019 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, won by longshot Super Steed out of the sixth post position. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) on Monday, President’s Day at Oaklawn Park is the second in a four-race string of qualifying points prep races for the 2020 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve held at the picturesque Hot Springs, Ark., track.

Held at 1 1/16 miles, the Southwest grants qualifying points for the May 2 Kentucky Derby on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers. The Southwest will be followed by the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) on March 14  and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 11 on Oaklawn Park’s road to the Kentucky Derby.

The Southwest Stakes drew a field of nine and has a scheduled post time of 5:43 p.m. ET. It will be televised live on FS2 during the “America’s Day at the Races” show presented by America’s Best Racing, and also shown live on TVG. For more broadcast information, click here.

Whether you are interested in making a couple of bucks on the race or just want to know a little bit about this year’s runners, we’ve got you covered with our 2020 Southwest Stakes Cheat Sheet.

Coady Photography

1. Wells Bayou

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owners: Clint Gasaway and Lance Gasaway

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

Career earnings: $95,293

Earnings per start: $31,764

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 94

Pedigree: Lookin At Lucky – Whispering Angel, by Hard Spun

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: At the very least, Wells Bayou should give Gold Street a pace challenge in Monday’s Southwest Stakes and ensure that the Smarty Jones Stakes winner won’t have nearly as easy a time controlling things as he did three weeks ago. This colt won impressively on debut last October at Keeneland, dueling for the lead and drawing away to a 2 ¼-length score at six furlongs on a sloppy track. He disappointed in his next start, fading to seventh after dueling for the lead again in a one-turn mile race at Churchill Downs in November, and then was shelved for nearly two months before returning on Oaklawn’s opening-day Jan. 24 card. In his first start navigating two turns, he took a one-mile allowance-optional claiming race by four lengths, breaking from the rail post and staying there all the way around en route to an eye-catching win. His final time was about a half-second slower than Gold Street’s win at the same distance later on the Jan. 24 card in the Smarty Jones Stakes, and he’s only posted one timed workout since then. Still, he has the pedigree to go longer (he’s by 2010 Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky and related to 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown) and obviously has an affinity for Oaklawn’s main track. Interestingly, both Wells Bayou and Gold Street have relished racing on wet tracks so far in their career (the President’s Day forecast in Hot Springs predicts only a 20% chance of rain). This colt drew the inside post again at Oaklawn, and expect jockey Florent Geroux to send him straight to the front in order to beat Gold Street to the early lead before potentially starting a chess match through the backstretch.

Eclipse Sportswire

2. Silver Prospector

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owners: Ed and Susie Orr

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

Career earnings: $263,051

Earnings per start: $37,579

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 95

Pedigree: Declaration of War – Tap Softly, by Tapit

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Silver Prospector got the attention of early 2020 Kentucky Derby watchers last November when he posted an upset win in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs, defeating current Derby future-book favorite Tiz the Law. Expectations were therefore high for his 3-year-old debut in the Smarty Jones Stakes on Jan. 24 at Oaklawn, but he never made an impression in a race won gate-to-wire by stablemate Gold Street, churning on to get fourth but beaten by 7 ½ lengths. Gold Street and Smarty Jones runner-up Shoplifted both return in Monday’s Southwest Stakes, and it will be interesting to see how the race unfolds with another pace horse (Wells Bayou) entered who should contest Gold Street for the lead, and whether that will help Silver Prospector and several other horses during the late running. In a couple of his races from last fall, including his maiden win at Keeneland, this colt showed the ability to race closer to the pace than he did in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Smarty Jones, and it would not be a surprise to see Oaklawn’s leading rider Ricardo Santana Jr. get him involved earlier this time. Look for an improved performance in the Southwest from Silver Prospector … but even if he achieves one, it still may not be enough to win. Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen has won the Southwest twice: Private Emblem in 2002 and Tapiture in 2014, the latter was ridden by Santana. Asmussen-trained Long Range Toddy finished third last year before winning a division of the Rebel Stakes and going on to run in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Read Mike Curry's Making the Grade analysis of Silver Prospector.

Eclipse Sportswire

3. Shoplifted

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owners: Cheyenne Stables, Grandview Equine, and LNJ Foxwoods

Career record: 6 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $400,500

Earnings per start: $66,750

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Shopit, by Yes It’s True

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Shoplifted disappointed in his 3-year-old debut when finishing third behind Gold Street and Three Technique in the Smarty Jones Stakes on Jan. 24 at Oaklawn, but he could be a good value play in the Southwest if he can regain the form he showed in his final start as a 2-year-old. In the Remington Springboard Mile on Dec. 15, he rallied strongly and edged fellow Southwest foe Answer In by a head, earning a 108 Equibase Speed Figure that is tied with Answer In’s figure from the Springboard as the best in Monday’s field. Shoplifted’s Springboard Mile effort was a major improvement after he had been a nonfactor in prior two two-turn races last fall, although it must be noted that both of those races were Grade 1 tests against top-flight competition. This son of 2019 leading sire Into Mischief is a closer dependent on a fast pace, and the prospects of getting one are mainly dependent on whether Wells Bayou and Gold Street engage in a taxing speed duel … in other words, 50-50. This colt is worthy of considering for trifecta and superfecta tickets at the very least, and those confident in his ability to shake off a disappointing effort in the Smarty Jones should get a square price on him in the Southwest. Read Mike Curry's Making the Grade analysis of Shoplifted.

Eclipse Sportswire

4. Gold Street

Jockey: Martin Garcia

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Mike McCarty

Career record: 6 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $225,218

Earnings per start: $37,536

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 101

Pedigree: Street Boss – Morakami, by Fusaichi Pegasus

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The most accomplished contender in Monday’s field, Gold Street enters on an impressive three-race winning streak that includes a wire-to-wire score in Oaklawn’s first Kentucky Derby prep, the one-mile Smarty Jones Stakes. Back on Jan. 24, Gold Street took command soon after the gates opened and slowed down the pace under front-end maestro Martin Garcia before re-breaking in early stretch and drawing away to win by 2 ¾ lengths. Garcia probably will try the same strategy again on Monday as Gold Street extends his speed-oriented pedigree out another sixteenth of a mile, but there are two possible complications on the horizon: first, this son of Street Boss should have some company on the early lead thanks to the presence of Wells Bayou; and second, all three of Gold Street’s recent wins have come on wet tracks, and there’s only a 20% forecast for rain at Oaklawn on Monday. Still, this is a very talented, professional racehorse whose effort should play a major factor in how the 2020 Southwest Stakes is run, and it would not be a surprise at all to see him back in Oaklawn’s winner’s circle come early evening. Martin Garcia won the 2010 Southwest in front-running fashion aboard Conveyance. Read Mike Curry's Making the Grade analysis of Gold Street.

Adam Coglianese/NYRA

5. American Butterfly

Jockey: Declan Cannon

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Owner: Les Wagner

Career record: 7 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $103,519

Earnings per start: $14,788

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 98

Pedigree: American Pharoah – Gracie’s Butterfly, by War Front

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah came back for his 3-year-old debut at Oaklawn on Feb. 2 and ran very well, rallying along the rail through the stretch to just miss winning by a head. He earned a career-best 98 Equibase Speed Figure for the runner-up finish in the six-furlong race, and if he can bump that up a bit in his second start of the year he has a chance to hit the board in Monday’s Southwest Stakes. He kept good company as a 2-year-old last year after winning his second career start at Saratoga, competing in three stakes races, two of them Grade 1s. A note of concern: in his only start around two turns, he tired badly in the stretch of the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, finishing sixth by 15 lengths after setting the early pace. American Butterfly showed tactical speed in several of his races as a juvenile but tired in all of them aside from his maiden win, and it will be interesting to see if jockey Declan Cannon holds him back or is more aggressive and moves him up to challenge Gold Street and Wells Bayou. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas won the 1992 Southwest with Big Sur, whom he also co-owned with the late William T. Young’s Overbrook Farm.

6. Chase Tracker

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: St. Elias Stable

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $93,000

Earnings per start: $31,000

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 95

Pedigree: Verrazano – Nutmeg, by Lemon Drop Kid

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Chase Tracker ships in to Hot Springs from trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn at Palm Beach Downs training facility in Florida as a top contender for the Southwest Stakes, although he’ll need to show improvement in his first start at 3 against several horses with more recent good form to reach the winner’s circle. Chase Tracker impressively won his seven-furlong debut at Parx Racing back in September, earning a 95 Equibase Speed Figure, and then finished a well-beaten third in both the one-mile Nashua Stakes and the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct to close out his juvenile campaign. In the two-turn Remsen, he raced in contention for a mile or so, close behind wire-to-wire winner Shotski, but had no punch in the stretch. Look for Chase Tracker to live up to his name in terms of where he’ll be placed within the Southwest Stakes field on Monday. He’s got elite connections – Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez teamed up to win the 2017 Southwest with One Liner – and that could make him a bit of an underlay when the gates open. His pedigree is decent enough for the Southwest’s 1 1/16-mile distance, although young sire Verrazano has not made much of an impression to date.

Coady Photography

7. Villainous

Jockey: David Cohen

Trainer: Jeremiah Englehart

Owners: Harold Lerner, AWC Stables, Nehoc Stables, Scott K. Akman, and Paul Braverman

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

Career earnings: $51,240

Earnings per start: $25,710

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 80

Pedigree: Wicked Strong – Hey Julie, by Strong Hope

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This son from the first crop of 2014 Wood Memorial Stakes winner Wicked Strong made his career debut late in his 2-year-old season, finishing a well-beaten eighth in a six-furlong maiden race at Aqueduct on Dec. 7. Sent to Oaklawn for his next start and his first at age 3, he turned things around quite nicely, taking a 1 1/16-mile race on the opening-day Jan. 24 card by 1 ¼ lengths. That race, run on the same day as the Smarty Jones Stakes, was held on a muddy track, and resulted in a slow final time giving Villainous a modest 80 Equibase Speed Figure. He’s been training steadily on fast dirt tracks at Oaklawn for Jeremiah Englehart since that win and could hit the board at a nice price in the Southwest if he takes the next step in development. Villainous lacks experience compared with most of the field, however, and is a longshot as a win candidate.

8. Taishan

Jockey: Mario Gutierrez

Trainer: Richard Baltas

Owners: Calvin Nguyen and Joey Tran

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $37,220

Earnings per start: $12,407

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 97

Pedigree: Twirling Candy – Grace Phil, by Philanthropist

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This California-based runner is a wild card for Monday’s Southwest Stakes. He fits in well with the field based on Equibase Speed Figures, tallying a 96 in his maiden win last November in a one-mile race at Santa Anita Park and then a 97 in his 3-year-old debut when he finished fourth behind Authentic in the one-mile Sham Stakes, a Kentucky Derby points race, on Jan. 4 at Santa Anita. He was defeated by 10 lengths in the Sham at odds of 2.30-1, but he broke slowly in that race and Authentic routed the entire field. Taishan has been training well since the Sham for Richard Baltas, and on more than one occasion California-based horses have shipped in and excelled at Oaklawn Park. Look for Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Mario Gutierrez to attempt a trip similar to Taishan’s stalk-and-pounce maiden win in Monday’s Southwest Stakes. This colt is proven around two turns and his pedigree is interesting for longer races. His sire, Twirling Candy, boasts two recent route winners at the Grade 1 level in Gift Box and Concrete Rose, and while his dam was mainly a sprinter in Canada, she was a good one with two stakes victories to her credit, one coming at 1 1/16 miles.

Coady Photography

9. Answer In

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owners: Robert LaPenta and Madaket Stables

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $153,412

Earnings per start: $51,137

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108

Pedigree: Dialed In – D’ya Knowwhatimean, by Broken Vow

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This gelding looms a major threat in the Southwest as he makes his first start as a 3-year-old. He raced three times last year and is less than a length away from being undefeated, losing his debut at Churchill Downs in September by a nose, romping by 5 ¼ lengths back at Churchill in late October, and then finishing second to Southwest foe Shoplifted by a head in the Dec. 15 Remington Springboard Mile after hanging in deep stretch. Answer In has been training steadily at Oaklawn for trainer Brad Cox since the Springboard Mile and appears fit enough to fire fresh off of the layoff come Monday. His pedigree does not jump off of the page, as his dam (mother) was a sprinter relegated to the claiming ranks, but his sire, Dialed In, did win the Florida Derby and provides a good stamina foundation. If he breaks well, look for Answer In to race a bit closer to the early pace in the Southwest under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano before making a bid for the lead somewhere on the far turn. Rising star trainer Brad Cox also has Wells Bayou entered in Monday’s race, whose front-running style should keep Gold Street company early and possibly benefit this contender. Co-owner Robert LaPenta also co-owned 2015 Southwest winner Far Right.

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