Handicapping Southwest, Razorback at Oaklawn Park

Profile Picture: James Scully

February 19th, 2018

A Kentucky Derby qualifier, the $500,000 Southwest (G3) highlights a 10-race Presidents’ Day card at Oaklawn Park and the 1 1/16-mile event appears to have attracted plenty of speed including Mourinho, who shipped in to post a wire-to-wire win in the January 15 Smarty Jones. The 2-1 morning line favorite is trained by four-time Southwest winner Bob Baffert.

#10 Combatant failed to catch Mourinho when rallying to be a clear second in the one-mile Smarty Jones, but look for him to benefit from the added ground and projected pace scenario Monday. The pace could be extremely hot/contested in the 1 1/16-mile test, with front-running Grade 1 winner Sporting Chance likely to gun from post 2 and Ezmosh a need-the-lead type on the far outside, and it will be interesting to see what tactics Drayden Van Dyke employs with Mourinho.

It all sets up well for Combatant, who is clearly progressing for Steve Asmussen with increasing BRIS Speed and Late Pace numbers, and he can finish fastest of all for his first stakes win. The scratch of Principe Guilherme means we won’t get the 6-1 morning line, but I will still play Combatant to win and key in most wagers.

#5 Road to Damascus makes a big jump from a Tampa maiden win to stakes company, but I like how he overcame adversity to break his maiden last time and give him a chance to add value to the equation (15-1 m/l). By Pioneerof the Nile, the lightly-raced colt is a full-brother to Social Inclusion, who finished third in the 2016 Preakness in only his fourth start, and Todd Pletcher knows how to get his runners ready for stakes competition. I’ll use Road to Damascus as a saver in horizontal exotics.

One race prior to the Southwest, the 11-horse Razorback (G3) shapes up to be a good betting race. Sonneteer is rated as a lukewarm 4-1 morning line favorite following his initial stakes victory in January 12 Fifth Season, but I will be playing against the confirmed closer today.

I love playing horses stepping up to the proper level in good form and #5 Leofric brings a 4-for-4 mark at Oaklawn to his graded debut. Luis Saez takes over the reins aboard the improving Brad Cox trainee and Leofric figures to sit a good trip with his tactical speed before offering his best. The 5-year-old son of Candy Ride is listed at 9-2.

In Race 4, #4 Augie may not offer much value (3-1) but the sophomore colt looks set to graduate today and I will single the son of Twirling Candy in multi-race wagers.

Good luck!