Presidents' Day Spot Plays at Oaklawn Park

Profile Picture: Scott Shapiro

February 18th, 2018

Monday is Presidents’ Day and that means it is Southwest Stakes Day at Oaklawn Park.

The racing office in Hot Springs, Arkansas has a special holiday card on tap that includes not only the Grade 3 Southwest, but also the 59th running of the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap for older males.

The ten-race card commences at 1:05 PM local time and offers horseplayers a solid day of action with plenty of opportunities to end the long racing week on a positive note.

Here are a couple of horses I will build my Monday wagering around at Oaklawn Park:

Race 8

The Razorback kicks off a Pick 3 sequence that includes both graded stakes races and offers handicappers a solid field of 11 runners looking to take down the lions’ share of the $500,000 purse.

Several are in with a shot in the mile and a sixteenth event over the dirt, but I like the chances of #10 Futile for trainer Chris Hartman. The five-year-old gelding makes his third start of the form cycle after two runner-up efforts to start his 2018.

Futile should enjoy racing in a field that does not include the likes of front running Dan the Go to Man. This should allow the son of Broken Vow to clear from his outside post, set a moderate early tempo and have enough left late to hang on for the biggest win of his career. The presence of jockey Luis Contreras and this gelding’s success at the mile and a sixteenth distance add to the appeal.

At anything 5-1 or above I will wager on Futile to win.


Race 9

The featured event is the aforementioned $500,000 also conducted at a mile and a sixteenth.

The field is headlined by Smarty Jones Stakes winner, #4 Mourinho, as well as the return of 2017 Hopeful Stakes winner #2 Sporting Chance, but I am concerned that they will go too fast early in the Kentucky Derby prep. For that reason, I am attracted to the late running Southern California import, #1 My Boy Jack.

My Boy Jack raced over the lawn in all, but the first start of his two-year-old campaign for trainer Keith Desormeaux. The son of Creative Cause only won once, but showed consistency despite a lack of early speed with 4 consecutive top 2 finishes until he finished a better than looks seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar.

Desormeaux gave My Boy Jack a couple of months off before bringing him back on the dirt, not the lawn, in the Grade 3 Sham where he was up closer than he prefers due to a slow early pace. He was able to follow the top two finishers around the track and pick up a third place check, but his running style is better served with a faster and more contentious pace on the front end. He should get just that in the Southwest.

I expect Kent Desormeaux to take a hold of this $20,000 Keeneland September 2016 purchase after the break, save ground on the backstretch and come with a strong late rally against a number of horses that I expect to be struggling to get the final couple of furlongs. If he can get there it will be a great way to end the week.

The 12-1 morning line price is delicious, but I will back My Boy Jack at anything 6-1 or higher in the Southwest.


Good luck on the holiday card!