President’s Day Derby Prep – Southwest Stakes

Southwest Stakes Features Top 2 Finishers in Smarty Jones

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues on President’s Day at Oaklawn Park with the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3). The top-2 finishers and wagering interests from the Smarty Jones Stakes last month will duel again on Monday, Feb. 19.

Mourinho and Combatant finished 1st and 2nd in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn on Jan. 15, going off at 3/5 and 8/5 odds respectively inthe short field of five. But Mourinho got loose on the lead in that 1 mile

Mourinho winning Smarty Jones Stakes

race, his first start with blinkers, and stretched out to two turns opening up a 4-length lead in the stretch. Combatant couldn’t make gains in finishing 2nd, but he’s recorded  better speed figures in each of his four. starts for trainer Steve Asmussen, and has been working well at Oaklawn for the rematch in the Southwest Stakes.

Sporting Chance is based at Oaklawn, and he’ll make his 2018 debut in the Southwest Monday. The Tiznow colt has been off since winning the Hopeful Stakes (G1)  last September. He ducked out late in that race but held on to win. He had a knee chip removed following that race, but has now been training terrific the past five weeks leading into his first Derby prep. Sporting Chance has , yet to go a ground of distance, and he’s try two turns for the first time in the Southwest Stakes.

Projecting improvement is always part of the puzzle as you evaluate these three year olds and the fields they run against. But watch these three and other entires that are posted Friday along with the odds for Monday’s 1 1/16-mile Southwest—Oaklawn’s second of four major preps for the Kentucky Derby.

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