Thursday, February 19, 2015
Redrawn Southwest Stakes Attracts Field of 11
No surprises for Thursday morning’s redrawn $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds at Oaklawn.
The 10 expected original projected starters, including Far Right and Mr. Z, plus unbeaten Hillbilly Royalty, were entered for Sunday’s 1 1/16-mile race.
“It worked out well,” Oaklawn racing secretary Pat Pope said.
The Southwest was originally scheduled to be run Monday afternoon, but postponed six days because of severe winter weather. The redrawn Southwest will go as the eighth of nine races Sunday. Probable post time is 4:42 p.m. (Central).
Far Right was the 3-1 program favorite for Monday’s race. Despite the delay, trainer Ron Moquett was able to retain the services of Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who guided Far Right to a 1 ¾-length victory in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 19. Far Right is scheduled to break from post 6 Sunday.
“Perfect,” Moquett said moments after the post position draw. “The thing about running Sunday is it gave us a chance to train another day. It worked out good.”
Mr. Z, a troubled third in the Smarty Jones, is scheduled to break from the extreme outside – post 11 – under Corey Nakatani. Mr. Z was the 7-2 second choice in the program for Monday’s race.
The delay did allow unbeaten Hillbilly Royalty, trained by Donnie K. Von Hemel, to enter the race. Bred and owned by country music superstar Toby Keith, Hillbilly Royalty was a front-running 4 ½-length allowance/optional claiming winner Feb. 6. Following the race, Von Hemel said Hillbilly Royalty was under consideration for several races for his next start, including the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 14. He breezed a half-mile in :49 Sunday morning.
Private Prospect completed final major preparations for the Southwest by breezing a half-mile in :47.40 Wednesday afternoon for trainer Mike Campbell.
Bold Conquest, Bayerd, Phenomenal Phoenix and Hillbilly Royalty were scheduled to train after Thursday’s third race.
The Southwest field, with riders and weight assignments, from the rail out: Bayerd, Ramon Vazquez, 119; Majestico, Terry Thompson, 115; Hillbilly Royalty, Luis Quinonez, 117; Private Prospect, Alex Birzer, 119; Bold Conquest, Ricardo Santana Jr., 115; Far Right, Mike Smith, 122; Phenomenal Phoenix, Cliff Berry, 115; The Truth Or Else, Calvin Borel, 115; Kantune, Shaun Bridgmohan, 115; Bold Animaux, Israel Ocampo, 115; and Mr. Z, Corey Nakatani, 115.
Phenomenal Phoenix, also trained by Von Hemel, will race with blinkers on Sunday.
The only two original Southwest entrants not re-entered were War Story and J S Bach, who are scheduled to run in Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
Lightly raced Pangburn, one of the most promising 3-year-old fillies on the grounds, is scheduled to make her 2015 debut in Friday’s ninth race, an entry-level allowance event at 1 1/16 miles. Trained by Kenny McPeek, the filly hasn’t started since finishing second in the $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes (G2) Sept. 6 at Churchill Downs.
McPeek, who trains Pangburn for Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony, said Friday’s race could “possibly” be a prep for the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) March 7.
“It depends on how easily the race goes,” McPeek said.
McPeek had planned to launch Pangburn’s 2015 campaign in a Feb. 5 allowance race (designed as a Honeybee prep), but it didn’t fill. Pangburn won her July 12 career debut at Ellis Park before running second to Cristina’s Journey in the Pocahontas. The fifth-place finisher in the Pocahontas, Take Charge Brandi, was named the country’s champion 2-year-old filly.
McPeek said Pangburn was preparing for the $400,000 Alcibiades Stakes (G1) Oct. 3 at Keeneland when she contracted a virus. Following the setback, McPeek said he decided to back off the daughter of Congrats for the remainder of 2014. Pangburn has five published workouts at Oaklawn since Jan. 17.
“She’s locked and loaded,” McPeek said.
Training was delayed 3 ½ hours Thursday morning because of freezing temperatures. … The track reopened for training at noon Wednesday after being closed Monday and Tuesday because of winter weather. …Trainer Bret Calhoun said nothing was found to be physically wrong with 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint participant Jake Mo, who was vanned off after finishing last of seven in a Jan. 22 allowance/optional claiming race. Calhoun said Jake Mo, a stakes winner of $281,552, may have been suffering from a muscle cramp and should appear on the work tab again shortly. … Leading owner Danny Caldwell is the special guest for Saturday’s Dawn At Oaklawn.
Thursday, February 19, 2015