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2014 Southwest Stakes

Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn

Super Ninety NineOn Monday, February 17th, 2014 we have the $300,000 Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The Southwest Stakes is the last race of the 2013-2014 Kentucky Derby Prep Season. If you are unfamiliar with the Kentucky Derby Points System be sure and check out all the info on it here- 2014 Kentucky Derby Points System. After this race we will officially be in the 2014 Kentucky Derby Championship series were the points will increase starting with the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream and the Risen Star at Fair Grounds on the 22nd. In last year’s edition of the Southwest, Bob Baffert’s Super Ninety Nine jumped to the early lead on the sloppy track and never looked back winning by 11 ¼ lengths! Let’s see if we can spot a runaway in this year’s race.

2014 Southwest at Oaklawn

Strong MandateThe Grade 3 Southwest Stakes is the 9th race on the Oaklawn card for Presidents’ Day and will feature a field of 12 three year olds traveling 1 1/16 mile. The morning line favorite at 2 to 1 is Strong Mandate. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by Joel Rosario, Strong Mandate ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his last outing. I have to admit that this is one of my favorites as a Derby hopeful, but I am concerned about the set-up here. There is a TON of front-end speed, including Strong Mandate. I hope that Lukas instructs Rosario to put him in a mid-pack position, but we’ll just have to wait and see on that one. I feel he might and I’m definitely rooting for this horse (even though he is the favorite), but I have some ideas for value that may take this race in an upset. There is a lot of talent in this race and I’m sure you will hear others talk about Tapiture, Tanzanite Cat and Coastline. These are all good horses making the selection here difficult, but I’m going to start with Ride On Curlin at 6 to 1 on the ML.  Ride On CurlinRide On Curlin also has a tendency to take the early lead like he did in his last race where he won a $56,000 Allowance at Oaklawn by 2 ½ lengths. Clearly a prep race for the Southwest, he looks fit and ready for this one. But the reason I really like him is for his effort in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont. Ride On Curlin was 8th in the 9 horse field by the 1st call at 10 lengths out of it, but consistently gained ground through the remainder of the race finishing third and missing the win by 1 ¾ lengths. If he can lie back in the Southwest and come charging at the end, he has a great shot to win it. For a longshot to consider, I’m going with Louies Flower at 12 to 1. Louies Flower won the Springboard Mile at Remington by a neck in stalking fashion and has the speed to contend with this field. Good luck everybody!

 

 

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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at HandicapHorseRacing.com and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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