Metro breaks down Monday’s Southwest Stakes, the second stepping stone on Arkansas’ road to the Kentucky Derby.
Oaklawn Race 9 (Post time: 6:09 p.m. Eastern)
The Grade III, $500,000 Southwest Stakes
1 1/16th-miles on dirt
The Southwest Stakes, a race worth 10 Kentucky Derby points to the winner, attracted 11 three-year-old colts looking to make a name for themselves on the Derby trail. #1 GRAY ATTEMPT is likely to go postward as the favorite after beating several of these in last month’s Smarty Jones, but there is an intriguing new face that could shake up proceedings.
#5 JERSEY AGENDA (5-1), one of five entered by trainer Steve Asmussen, will be the top selection in the Southwest. He began his career on turf with a runner-up finish before graduating in the mud at Churchill Downs last November. His first route race (and first on fast dirt) was an overwhelming success, as he won by a widening 2 3/4-lengths over 10 others. JERSEY AGENDA was ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. that day and will be again on Monday, which is encouraging. Santana Jr. had multiple options as Asmussen’s go-to pilot. JERSEY AGENDA should get an ideal trip stalking the pace, likely to be set by GRAY ATTEMPT.
GRAY ATTEMPT (7-2) has gone gate-to-wire in three straight races. He wasn’t hindered by the far outside post and stretchout in distance in the Smarty Jones last month, beating five runners who return in the Southwest. Shaun Bridgmohan will ship in for the call once more, and the son of Graydar is working brilliantly in preparation for this, but there is cause for concern.
GRAY ATTEMPT held on by just a neck over #10 LONG RANGE TODDY (albeit that one had a perfect setup) in the Smarty Jones, which featured a short stretch run. He’ll be asked to get an extra 1/16th of a mile here and hold off the closers to the real finish line, not the 1/16th-pole. Therefore, GRAY ATTEMPT is worth playing against to some extent.
#8 SIX SHOOTER (20-1) and #4 BOLDOR (12-1) both had somewhat troubled trips in the Smarty Jones and could turn the tables with smooth voyages on Monday. SIX SHOOTER had to tap on the brakes on the backstretch run as an opening between horses closed abruptly, then was forced four-wide for the stretch run. BOLDOR was three-wide for most of the journey yet only missed nipping GRAY ATTEMPT at the wire by a half-length. SIX SHOOTER will be ridden by Stewart Elliott, while BOLDOR will have Ramon Vazquez in the irons.
The play: $4 exacta 5/1, $2 exacta 5/4,8, $2 exacta 1/5 ($10)