Southwest field takes shape
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Old Fashioned could have as many as eight or nine rivals in the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes, one of two major stakes for 3-year-olds on deck next holiday weekend at Oaklawn Park.
Rachel Alexandra, the winner of the Grade 2 Golden Rod, will head the $50,000 Martha Washington on Sunday, Feb. 15.
The Southwest, on Presidents Day Feb. 16, will mark the first start of the year for Old Fashioned, the undefeated winner of the Grade 2 Remsen. He will be favored against the up-and-coming Silver City. Those two form a strong one-two punch in the one-mile race for which nominations were to close late Friday.
"I still feel that we will have seven to nine runners," Oaklawn racing secretary Pat Pope said. "We're really looking forward to seeing Old Fashioned start his 3-year-old campaign."
Old Fashioned, who breezed a bullet half-mile in 48.40 seconds here Thursday, might have his final work for the Southwest on Wednesday, depending on the weather, said his trainer, Larry Jones. Thursday's drill was done with stunning ease, and it backed up Old Fashioned's powerful five-furlong, 58.40-second work at Fair Grounds on Jan. 29.
"That work actually got us ahead of the game," Jones said, "that way we could do something light [Thursday] and not have to worry about getting a major distance work in him. So, it really worked out well."
Smarty Jones 1-2-3 may return
Poltergeist is probable for the Southwest, said his trainer, Donnie Von Hemel. The horse could start as third choice off an impressive Oaklawn allowance win in which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95. Old Fashioned earned a 100 for the Remsen; Silver City received a 99 for his win in the $50,000 Dixieland at Oakawn in his last start Jan. 16.
The Southwest field may also include the first three finishers from the $50,000 Smarty Jones here Jan. 19. Flat Out, who earned an 87 Beyer for his 3 1/2-length win that day, is scheduled to make his next start in the Southwest, said his trainer, Scooter Dickey.
Silver Bayer, who finished second, is a possible for the Southwest. "We're going to look at it pretty hard," said David Vance, who trains Silver Bayer.
Gresham, third in the Smarty Jones, is being pointed for the Southwest, said his trainer, Jimmy Baker. Last year, Gresham finished third in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park.
Loch Dubh, the winner of the $50,000 Prevue at Turfway on Jan. 3, also is being pointed for the Southwest, according to his trainer, Jeff Talley.
Kick On is possible, said his trainer, Joe Petalino. He has been shipped to Oaklawn from his Lone Star Park base and was to work on Saturday. Last year at 2, Kick On won two route stakes, the $150,000 Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs and the $100,000 MEC Mile at Remington Park.
Sangre Frio, an impressive maiden winner at Churchill who finished second to the stakes-placed Dance Caller in an allowance race at Oaklawn on Feb. 1, is another who is possible for the Southwest, according to his trainer, Dallas Stewart. Sangre Frio, who shipped in from Fair Grounds for the Feb. 1 race, has remained at Oaklawn.
Dance Caller is nominated to the Southwest but is under stronger consideration for the $50,000 Mountain Valley at six furlongs at Oaklawn on Feb. 28, according to his trainer, Bob Holthus.
Messy Marvin, who is stakes-placed at a mile, is training sharply and as a result is being considered for the Southwest, said his trainer, Allen Milligan.
Milligan benefits from three DQs
Horses trained by Milligan were moved up in three different races Thursday as a result of disqualifications.
"That's got to be a record," he said.
It all began in the fourth race, when Out Past Curfew was moved up from third to second after stewards granted a claim of foul lodged by her rider, Glen Murphy. Then in the sixth race, the Milligan-trained Levitating was placed first after a stewards inquiry led to the call that she was impeded and the disqualification of first-place finisher Pretty Simple. A race later, Prenuptial Vow was placed fourth after finishing fifth, via the disqualification of the third-place finisher, Simply Fox.
Milligan, who has been training since 1993, said he had never won a race on disqualification until Levitating's.
Eddie Martin Jr. rode Levitating, one of two winners he had via disqualification Thursday. Another Martin mount, Texas Kitty Kat, was elevated to first in the fourth race following the disqualification of first-place finisher Cats Purrfection.
* Isabull will make his second start since November in the featured eighth race Sunday, a first-level allowance at a mile. He will remove blinkers for the race after finishing third at this same level Jan. 24. Tim Doocy has the mount for trainer Steve Hobby.
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