How to bet the Southwest Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

February 14th, 2020

It’s safe to say Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has his sights set on winning the $750,000 Southwest (G3) on Monday at Oaklawn Park.

Roughly 3 1/2 weeks after he saddled #4 Gold Street, #3 Shoplifted, and #2 Silver Prospector to run first, third, and fourth, respectively, in the Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn, Asmussen will bring all three of those stakes-winning sophomores back for the Southwest.

And why not?

With a huge purse and 17 Kentucky Derby (G1) qualification points on the line (including 10 points to the winner), the Southwest is a lucrative prize.

At first glance the Southwest seems like Asmussen’s race to lose. Gold Street ran fast in the Smarty Jones, with a 99 Brisnet Speed rating, and the quality of competition was impressive. Shoplifted won the Remington Spring Mile in December, and Silver Prospector claimed the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in November, so they have the back class to be competitive if Gold Street comes back down to earth.

But the Smarty Jones was an unusual race over a muddy, speed-favoring track. Gold Street took full advantage of the situation, and there’s no guarantee he’ll receive a favorable setup Monday, especially since #1 Wells Bayou and #5 American Butterfly figure to give him a fight for the early lead.

I’m tempted to oppose the Asmussen trio with #9 Answer In, who hails from the barn of hot trainer Brad Cox. An eye-catching 5 1/4-length maiden winner at Churchill Downs, Answer In was beaten a head by Shoplifted in the Remington Springboard Mile, but I felt he ran the better race. Whereas Shoplifted was able to rally unencumbered on the far outside, Answer In was forced to advance in tight quarters along the rail, an intimidating position that may have cost him victory.

Answer In shouldn’t have to worry about an inside trip from the outside post in the Southwest. He has trained sharply for his 2020 debut, most notably a 5-fulrong drill in :59 2/5 Feb. 2, and four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano will be in the saddle.

Let’s bet Answer In to win and key him on top of a trifecta, emphasizing the Asmussen runners underneath.

$12 to win on #9 Answer In
$1 trifecta: 9 with 2,3,4 with 2,3,4,6,8 ($12)
$1 trifecta: 9 with 2,3,4 with 2,3,4 ($6)

Good luck!