RACE 9 – SOUTHWEST STAKES (G3):
A full field of twelve line up in a contentious edition of the Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park. The “Red” PlotFit show some “chaos” in the overall race shape, and it should be kept in mind that many in this field are still lightly raced and developing. That will come into play going through the field horse-by-horse and assessing them as individuals as well as how they shape up in today’s event.
#1 BEN DIESEL fits as one of those lightly raced runners with upside as he makes his fourth start and trips playing a role in his Circle sitting in Quad I. He was dominant breaking his maiden on debut (B+) and class tested in his second start the KY JC (G2) at Churchill Downs in November. The outside post forced his hand and he was wide part of the early pace, and a similar trip played out in the Smarty Jones earlier this month. Ben Diesel was contesting a very-fast (X_FLOW) early pace which played a role in his finishing position and a contributing factor to the Circle on today’s Plot. He moves from one extreme to the other drawing the rail, a benefit in this case. As far as today’s race shape, the “Sun” Contention is in play though combined with a lower SpeedRate, a scenario that benefits horses with some tactical speed.
#2 DASH ATTACK is tough to fault with a perfect record two-for-two both races here at Oaklawn Park. He has been able to pair up OptixFIG (91, 92) that stack up in RANGE for today’s race. While he fits in this race, he has some concerns in terms of trips as he has benefited from favorable rides (TACTIC+) and has been off slow (SLOG) in both races. Those factors play a role in terms of today’s value as he projects to be a shorter price than in the prior starts where the SLOG and TACTIC+ were compensated on the board.
#3 DON’TCROSSTHEDEVIL was flattered off his two wins at Remington Park and will again be tested for class and stamina. While his trip in the Smarty Jones was far from ideal, overall he has still has a lot to prove at this level and against today’s group.
#4 KAVOD was class and stamina tested in the Smarty Jones and came up short even with a favorable trip. Those factors have to be considered here as he sits slightly below (C+ OptixGRADE) and has peaked in his current form cycle when it comes to speed, OptixFIG.
#5 COSTA TERRA has the look of the “wiseguy” horse in this race, a runner coming back off the layoff that had shown some run as a juvenile for top connections. That is noted because some value is required on this type of horse with the layoff, giving up recency to others in the field as well as his overall form, and his recorded OptixFIG sit below in this case and he requires a big move forward to compete as a top contender. A lightly raced type, he could present a move forward with maturity, something in this case that has to be factored into the number on the board.
#6 OSBOURNE will be tested for class stepping up to graded stakes company in his Oaklawn Park debut. Trainer Ron Moquett has had him on the grounds since early December, showing some intention to race in this graded stakes series. David Cabrera will pick up the mount and we are likely to see a more assertive ride today than in the Springboard Mile, when he was asked to rate by Julien Leparoux. That is consistent with the Plot, as Osbourne does show tactical speed and some finishing ability as a Quad III Square. Keeping up at the second call (lower on y-axis) is his class/stamina test today.
#7 IGNITIS has yet to take that necessary move forward to make him a strong contender at this level, though he has shown consistency (lacking Red) in each race to date. He has the type of form and Plot position here once again for a minor share.
#8 BARBER ROAD has been able to hold his form race-to-race and has the tactical speed (Standard) that has assisted him in terms of race dynamic. Those trips have slightly flattered his form, and he has another tougher class test here as he makes his graded stakes debut. In terms of speed figures, he also could be peaked at this point; whereas others present a move forward, Barber Road has likely shown his genetic potential.
#9 CLASSIC MOMENT will return today with the blinkers added and this could be a positive change for him following the Springboard Mile. Classic Moment was part of the early pace then, racing between horses before dropping back, perhaps losing focus in that role and his first start around two turns. Stamina might not necessarily be the issue as after giving up position, Classic Moment started to run on with interest again late in the Springboard.
#10 NEWGRANGE is the lone graded stakes winner with OptixFIG on the higher end of RANGE and with route, two-turn experience to support his role as the morning line favorite. Those factors are present on the Plot as a Large Quad I Square, and as noted earlier in the analysis, horses with tactical speed suit today’s dynamic. Newgrange will be tested over a new surface shipping into Oaklawn Park, and he does face a fuller field compared to those out in California. He also benefited from a PERFECT trip on debut as well as the race dynamic (FLOW) setting a soft early pace in the Sham (G3), a factor in his Plot shape and position today. Overall there are still factors for him to prove going forward.
#11 CALL ME JAMAL has shown ability and progression in each start. Even though he is coming back today off the Special Weight win last month, he is deserving of this class test. The draw does him no favors, taking up the outside post for a horse that wants to race on or near the lead, and he does not show any pace advantage today as a Quad I/III Circle. That said, his presence in this race can make things tougher for Newgrange.
#12 VIVAR could be under-the-radar coming into this race and off the fifth place finish in the Smarty Jones. As shown in the OptixNOTES, Vivar made a WIDE MOVE and overall visuals to suggest he can IMPROVE going forward. Vivar has foundation and upside from his races in Kentucky to support that progression here and to be given another chance at this graded stakes level. Florent Geroux was not aboard in the Smarty Jones as he was assigned to Home Brew (the off-the-board favorite) that day, but he will be back aboard for this race. That change suggests some positive intent as well as the equipment change with the blinkers added.