Chance of mud could bring about some Dust in Southwest

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

February 20th, 2017

First, a tip of the hat to those that might have backed Zakaroff to the tune of $99.60 in Saturday's El Camino Real Derby (G3), a separator in the $25,000 Kentucky Derby Dream Wager if there ever was one. He went off around five times the price as my selection and, on that basis and on paper, didn't deserve to be anywhere near that high.

Monday's $500,000 Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn brings another opportunity to qualify for the Derby Dream Wager's Final Round and to close the gap with those Zakaroff supporters in the run for Qualifying Round Prizes. More information on the contest and prizes can be found here.

The threat of rain and an off track could make things interesting in the Southwest. Regardless of surface conditions, Uncontested is going to be a heavy favorite, especially if the going is wet. His performance in last month's Smarty Jones in the slop really stands out, though he did have things his own way that day.

Perhaps talented enough to shake off the other speed or repel rivals that might try and soften him up, Uncontested is, nonetheless, an unattractive Win bet proposition. He's worth your time if you haven't qualified for the Final Round, but those that have would be better off taking a shot against him.

I'll be doing so with Silver Dust (#2, 10-1), who makes up in potential what he lacks in relative experience. Outside of Smarty Jones runner-up Petrov, he's the one out of the 12 not named Uncontested that intrigues me. After a rough trip in his debut at Churchill in late October, he came back a moth later and smartly won over the one-turn mile  by 3 1/2 lengths, defeating fellow Southwest rival Dilettante and Senior Investment, who has since crossed the wire first in three consecutive races (he was disqualified in one).

Silver Dust has posted a strong string of works, including two bullets over five furlongs, for trainer Randy Morse, and is bred to relish the mud if necessary as a son of Tapit. There are several graded stakes quality runners in his female family, including the brilliant but lightly-raced Whitney (G1) scorer Cross Traffic.

Best of luck with your Southwest selection!