Race 9 Oaklawn Park - PICKS: 6-9-5-2
A President’s Day stakes-filled Monday brings us to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas for the $750,000 Grade 3 Southwest Stakes for 3-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. The field of 9 will go to gate for race 9 on the 10-race card (which features two other Grade 3 stakes - Razorback Handicap, Bayakoa Stakes), with an approximate post time of 4:08 p.m. ET.
The Southwest will award its first four finishers important Kentucky Derby points on a scale of 10-4-2-1.
#6, Chase Tracker, John Velazquez, 7-2 - This will be his fourth career start (1-0-2) and he has recorded back-to-back, third-place finishes at Aqueduct in the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes on Nov. 3 and the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes on Dec. 7. The formidable duo of John Velazquez and trainer Todd Pletcher will look to take him up a notch today. The pick.
#9, Answer In, Javier Castellano, 3-1 - He has finished in the money in all three career starts (1-2-0), including a runner-up finish in the Remington Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Dec. 15. This will be his first stakes race with Javier Castellano aboard for trainer Brad Cox. Let’s see if he is worthy of ML favorite status with the step up in class. Runner-up.
#5, Taishan, Mario Gutierrez, 5-1 - This will be his fourth career start (1-0-0), where after his first win in his second start in a maiden special weight race on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita, he came back to finish fourth in his first graded stakes race, the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 4. Mario Gutierrez has the saddle for trainer Richard Baltas. Contender.
#2, Silver Prospector, Ricardo Santana, Jr., 9-2 - A veteran of this field, this will be his eighth career start (2-0-2), highlighted by his Grade 2 win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchuill Downs two starts back on Nov. 30. In his last start, he finished fourth in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 24. The start over this track should help and he can improve off his last outing. Ricardo Santana, Jr. has the mount for trainer Steven Asmussen. In the mix.
By Lou Monaco