2023 Southwest Stakes at a Glance

Horses vie for position heading into the first turn in the 2022 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Once again Oaklawn Park’s Southwest Stakes will offer qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, only this year there will be more of them to go around. Saturday’s Grade 3 stakes will offer a total of 40 points with the top five finishers, if eligible, receiving 20-8-6-4-2 points in descending order. A field of nine was entered for this year’s edition, including a few with the potential to be important players in this year’s Triple Crown chase.

southwest Stakes

Racetrack: Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs, Ark.

Date: Jan. 28

Purse: $750,000

Distance: 1 1/16 miles

Race: 10

Post Time: 5:57 p.m. ET

Notable winners: Essential Quality (2021), Secret Circle (2012), Lawyer Ron (2006), Smarty Jones (2004), Smoke Glacken (1997)

First held: 1968

1. Sun Thunder (10-1 morning-line odds): Stretched out to a mile for his second start and posted a decisive maiden victory. Has the pedigree to handle two turns here, but his speed figure for that win leaves him behind the top contenders.

JOCKEY: David CabreraTRAINER: Ken McPeek

2. Corona Bolt (6-1): He’s unbeaten in two starts and the most recent one was brilliant, winning in gate-to-wire style by 6 3/4 lengths in a fast time. That win came at six furlongs, but he’s bred to handle two turns and how he responds to this test is one of the more intriguing elements of the race.

JOCKEY: Flavien PratTRAINER: Brad Cox

3. Jace’s Road (4-1): He atoned for a dismal try on a sloppy track in the Street Sense Stakes by winning the Gun Runner Stakes at Fair Grounds in impressive fashion. He figures to be part of a lively pace duel that should play a major role in deciding the outcome, and having experience in a two-turn stakes gives him a nice advantage.

JOCKEY: Joe Talamo; TRAINER: Brad Cox                                                                                   

4. Western Ghent (20-1): He showed some improvement by finishing fourth here in the Smarty Jones Stakes at 56.70-1 odds. Having D. Wayne Lukas as his trainer helps his cause, but he’ll need another big step forward to be a serious contender.

JOCKEY: Cristian Torres; TRAINER: D. Wayne Lukas

5. Frosted Departure (15-1): He comes off a stakes win, but it was in a six-furlong sprint and his two tries navigating two turns were flops. Hard to recommend in this spot.

JOCKEY: Francisco Arrieta; TRAINER: Ken McPeek

6. Arabian Knight (1-1): Makes his long-awaited stakes debut after posting a dazzling maiden win on Breeders’ Cup Saturday at Keeneland. He lacks seasoning but has talent, and trainer Bob Baffert is an expert at bringing out the best in a promising 3-year-old runner. It’s hard to look past the potential he has.

JOCKEY: John VelazquezTRAINER: Bob Baffert

7. Red Route One (10-1): A troubled fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, he was given two months off to prepare for this race. His workouts have been sharp and with his late-running style he should be a factor in the final furlong.

JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana Jr.TRAINER: Steve Asmussen

8. Hit Show (10-1): Looked good winning an allowance race on this track. One of three Brad Cox-trained horses in the field and he looms as the weak link of the trio, but it would not be a surprise if he winds up in the exotics.

JOCKEY: Manny Franco; TRAINER: Brad Cox

9. El Tomate (30-1): Won nicely in a Remington Park maiden race but is taking a big step up in class. He faces a tough challenge from the outside post.

JOCKEY: Orlando MojicaTRAINER: Miguel Silva

THE PICK: Arabian Knight



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