Southwest Stakes Picks and Analysis

NOTE: For the 2017 race preview, plesae go here: 2017 Southwest Stakes Picks.

Redrawn 2015 Southwest Stakes Picks and Analysis

Far Right still the pick in redrawn Southwest Stakes

2015 Southwest Stakes-G3, Race 8, Oaklawn Park, Sunday, February 22, 2015

3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16-miles, Dirt, Purse: $300,000

2015 Southwest Stakes Picks

1. Far Right

2. Mr. Z

3. Private Prospect

4. Bold Conquest

2015 Southwest Stakes Analysis

Far Right was our pick in the Southwest Stakes-G3 last weekend when it
was cancelled due to a snowstorm, and we’ll stick with him on the redrawn
version of the race this Sunday at Oaklawn Park, as he could get an even
better pace setup for his late rally.

Two horses we liked in last week’s entries for the Southwest left the race
to run in the Risen Star-G2 on Saturday. War Story ended up a solid second
in the Risen Star while J S Bach was scratched. The latter was expected
to add speed in the Southwest. That speed will now likely be provided by
second choice Mr. Z and recent Oaklawn Park allowance winners Hillbilly
Royalty and Kantune.

Hillbilly Royalty’s wire-to-wire win going 1 1/16-miles on February 6 was
more impressive than Kantune’s pressing victory going the same distance
on January 23 and also resulted in a Beyer Speed Figure of 93, best in Southwest
field. Big numbers don’t always translate to wins on the class raise however,
and Hillbilly Royalty will likely have to shake off the much fitter and
battle tested Mr. Z when the running starts.

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Mr. Z looked like a winner at one point in the stretch of his last race
in the Smarty Jones, but appeared to shy from something and drifted out
badly in the drive, ending up third beaten 2 1/2-lengths by Far Right after
regrouping. Mr. Z hasn’t won in 10 starts since breaking his maiden in June
of 2014, but he’s taken some very good horses to photo finishes. Two starts
ago he finished third beaten only a head by California stars Dortmund and
Firing Line in the Los Alamitos Futurity. A repeat of that race would out
him in the photo here and he’ll get a different bit from Hall of Fame trainer
D. Wayne Lukas this time in an attempt to straighten him out. And Mr. Z
has defeated Far Right in the past, beating him by four lengths last year
in the Delta Downs Jackpot-G3 going the Southwest distance.

Smarty Jones runner-up Bayerd had a decent trip stalking a forced pace
in that race and will likely get the same trip again in the Southwest, but
he couldn’t match the late kick of Far Right late. Private Prospect makes
his second start off a 10-week layoff in the Southwest off a decent fourth-place
finish in the Smarty Jones after stalking from the outside. The pace scenario
should favor his late rally and his trainer Michael Campbell wins at a 25%
rate with horses making their second start of a layoff. Another who could
take advantage of a pace battle is Bold Conquest, making his first start
since finishing third beaten 12 lengths in the Breeders’ Futurity-G1 at
Keeneland on October 4 last year. Bold Conquest proved his class and ability
last season when he finished second beaten a neck in the Iroquois Stakes-G3
at Churchill Downs at the Southwest distance. If trainer Steve Asmussen
has him ready…

The remaining entrants in the Southwest have too many questions to answer.
Majestico is unproven on the dirt; Phenomenal Phoenix would need to improve
by 20 Beyer Speed Figure points; Bold Animaux has never run on dirt; and
The Truth Or Else comes off an 11-week layoff while getting first-time Lasix
for trainer Kenneth McPeek. The Truth Or Else finished third in both the
Champagne Stakes-G1 and the Nashua Stakes-G2 last year, but was beaten over
10 lengths in both races. Impossible to determine how he’ll run in the Southwest,
but you’d have to think he’s going to need a race.

The race sets up with Hillbilly Royalty and Mr. Z setting the pace while
possibly being pressured by Kantune. Among the contenders, Bayerd, Bold
Conquest and Private Prospect should be close behind that group, while Far
Right will rally from the back of the pack under top jock Mike Smith. Far
Right had to wait in late turn in his last and Smith will be trying to avoid
a repeat of that scenario in the Southwest.

Mr. Z should have the class and fitness edge to put away the other speed
or at least make sure they can’t win, before making a bid in the stretch.
He’ll have to maintain a straight course this time however, if he hopes
to hold off the ralliers.

We’ll bet Far Right to win and place and wheel him first and second in
the exactors, triactors and superfectas with Bayerd, Mr. Z, Private Prospect,
Bold Conquest and Hillbilly Royalty, but hope that Private Prospect (12-1)
and Bold Conquest (10-1) finish in the top three to make the payoffs more

Good Luck!