Who's fit for the Southwest Stakes

In discussing the Southwest Stakes (click for free Brisnet.com Ultimate PPs w/ comments) with Steve Byk on his At The Races radio program Friday morning, I wondered whether fitness would be a factor for some entrants because of the lost training time this month at Oaklawn Park.

Eleven of the dozen entrants are based at Oaklawn with the most recent works ranging from four days ago to three weeks ago and everywhere in between. The only shipper, #5 Kendall’s Boy, has worked steadily since winning an entry-level allowance race on January 11 at Fair Grounds in his three-year-old debut.

Speaking of three-year-old debuts, the top two betting choices--#2 Tapiture and #7 Strong Mandat--are both making theirs with the former sporting eight works since winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on November 30 at Churchill Downs and the latter showing seven published works since his third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 2 at Santa Anita Park. The discrepancy could be that Tapiture worked February 13 while Strong Mandate has not worked February 2.

Racing Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas conditions Strong Mandate, and while the “coach” is certainly known for putting bottom into his steeds, I still prefer Tapiture in this spot because of the layoff.

Like Kendall’s Boy, Ride On Curlin made his three-year-old debut in a six-furlong entry-level allowance. The Curlin colt won his on January 12 at Oaklawn, and while he’s in a similar position as Strong Mandate with no works in more than a week, he’s at least raced in the past six weeks.

The same could be said for Coastline, who has burned some money in his last two starts, losing as the 8-to-5 favorite in the Delta Jackpot and as the 6-to-5 favorite in the Smarty Jones, but he’ll be 8-to-1 and gets major post relief.

The Southwest plays a key roll in a pair of TwinSpires.com contests: It’s the last race in the Presidents’ Day Weekend Show-Place-Win 1-million points promo and the third of 20 races in the Road to the Kentucky Derby SHOWdown with 1,627 alive for the $1-million for sweeping the series that concludes with the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands.

There are 306 players remaining in the Show-Place-Win contest, which means a successful $20 win bet will be worth at least 3,268 points, but I’d be shocked if it’s less than 7,500. My “on top” pick is Tapiture, who should benefit from the inside draw by tracking Coastline and/or Tanzanite Cat assuming at least one of those two go from posts two and three.

Tapiture would also be my SHOWdown selection. I think Strong Mandate is the most likely to be best out of this group going forward, but the layoff and training concerns me. He could run a “needs one” race and finish a good fourth, but that’s not good enough for SHOWdown.

I already mentioned a big reason I’m against Strong Mandate at the price but another is the post, and that’s the reason I picked Tapiture on top instead of Ride On Curlin. Posts 8 and beyond have won just 2% of races going 1 1/16 miles this meeting at Oaklawn with an impact value of 0.18. So my selections in order are 3-8-2-7-6-1.


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I already mentioned a big reason I’m against Strong Mandate at the price but another is the post, and that’s the reason I picked Tapiture on top instead of Ride On Curlin. Posts 8 and beyond have won just 2% of races going 1 1/16 miles this meeting at Oaklawn with an impact value of 0.18. So my selections in order are 3-8-2-7-6-1.

By program #'s

3 Coastline

8 Ride On Curlin

2 Tapiture

7 Strong Mandate

6 Walt

1 Tanzanite Cat

17 Feb 2014 5:24 PM

Wow, had that handicapped totally backwards.  From earlier blog I went with closers and horses on the pace held (albeit Strong Mandate had to move up after first quarter).  Didn't expect 1:13 for 6 furlongs.

17 Feb 2014 6:29 PM
Pedigree Ann

Yeah, I went with Strong Mandate and had some palpitations after he got carried 5-6 wide in the first turn and shuffled back to last. Nice middle-move to get up to near the lead, but had shot his wad doing it. At least I progress in the contest.

Class seems to be telling this year - established stakes horses are doing most of the important winning - Candy Boy, Cairo Prince, Tamarando, and now Tapiture. Not an Apollo's-curse-goes-down year, I think.

17 Feb 2014 7:58 PM

Tapiture is a very slick looking colt. If he stays sound he could be a serious contender going forward. Strong Mandate ran like a short-of-work horse but was trying all the way and deserves another chance to prove himself. Ride on Curlin is a sprinter.

17 Feb 2014 8:38 PM

In a 2013 post I cited that Clear Mandate died of foaling complications on 02/19/2011, after producing a Tiznow colt on 02/11/2011. That Tiznow colt was Strong Mandate unless he has a twin. Maybe Pedigree  Ann has some information on a Derby winner that lost its dam in the same month of foaling.

That is just on the hurdles Strong Mandate has to cross to be a Derby winner. Clear Mandate belongs to what I have classifieds as the Million Dollar Broodmares Club. The members of this club are chiefly multiple G1 winners including many Kentucky Oaks winners. None of the members of the MDB Club have to date produced a Kentucky Derby winner.

Is there a correlation between G1 winning broodmares and Derby Winners? No! However, there appears to be a trend where progenies of G1 winning millionaire broodmares are denied wearing the roses for various reasons. There is no doubt that these mares have a strained relationship with the Derby.

In the 2012 Derby, millionaire broodmares Dream Of Summer and Take Charge Lady were represented by  Creative Cause and Take Charge Indy. Both finished off the board. Will Take Charge represent Take Charge Lady in the 2013 Derby and finished off the board.

It appears strong Mandate will require divine intervention to win the Derby.

18 Feb 2014 8:33 AM


Nice victory by a neat horse. The final time of 1:44.95 could be as a result of the harsh weather to which the track has been exposed in recent days. The 2nd leg of the AK Park Triple Crown is the 1 1/16m Rebel. The 2013 winner Will Take Charge recorded a time of 1:45.18 He went on the finish 8th in the Derby. The last winner of the Rebel to win the Derby was Smarty Jones and his winning time was 1:42.07. Curlin was the 2007 winner of the Rebel and he finished 3rd in the Derby. His winning Rebel time was 1:44.70 but he was pulling a bus.

What can be extrapolated from Tapitur’s all-out victory is such a slow time? He will have to improve significantly to be a serious Derby contender? Let’s not forget he is the product of an overbred stallion. Despite his comfortable victory he was hard ridden and being a Tapit progeny, one always has to keep the fingers crossed that he will capable of making another start before the Derby.

18 Feb 2014 8:59 AM

I wasnt impressed with the Southwest at all, I hope that the shippers from Cali and Florida that have connections that have thought about shipping their colts into Arkansas follow through and send them.

Two of the ones I have read about as being possible are Bayern and Honor Code.I realize comparative analysis can be somewhat misleading, but I wont jump to any conclusions if the colts being compared dont run their expected race for whatever reason.

I think the winner of the Southwest had a great inside stalking trip and Strong Mandate had to run a much harder race to get 2nd.If Tapiture runs in the Rebel and wins or places, then I will consider him a better prospect going forward in the TC series.In his favor he has won two stakes races for points so he has the best chance to make the starting gate to date.

18 Feb 2014 10:02 AM

As in my previous post at 10:02AM I am glad Pletcher decided to ship Intense Holiday to FG to run in the Risen Star.

Conquest Titan is on the sidelines until the Florida Derby and he outfinished Intense Holiday in the Holy Bull so all other circumstances being close enough to equal,I hope to get a read on the FGs Kentucky Derby hopefuls versus the Florida group.Last season FGs did well as colts that ran their preps in New Orleans ran 2nd and 3rd in the 2013 KD.Last year the Louisiana Derby went back to 9 furlongs.

18 Feb 2014 11:36 AM
Rusty Weisner


I'd like to know what the par times are at Oaklawn.  Just in looking over PPs I saw a lot of :25+ splits.  Is it a slow surface?  

I made a similar mistake in betting.  I thought the three down inside would heat up the pace too much and tossed Tapiture, taking Strong Mandate and ROC for the exacta.  Sometimes I'm right about pace scenarios...just like I'm right sometimes about coin flips.

I still like Strong Mandate, and like him a lot as a betting opportunity next out; as others have noted, it was his first out.  He reminds me how Oxbow got caught wide in two of his losing prep efforts.  I like Ride On Curlin', though to a lesser degree -- there's something quirky about this horse's races and in this one his task was impossible after he was parked in the parking lot on the first turn; maybe he puts all the pieces of a race together.

I wish the poster had made this post BEFORE the Southwest was run.  I would have considered the post positions more.  D'oh!

18 Feb 2014 12:59 PM
Rusty Weisner

To the author of this post,

I'm confused.  Tapiture is your "top pick" but you list picks as 3,8,2, etc.  

18 Feb 2014 1:01 PM
Rusty Weisner


That's an understatement about FG last year.  It wasn't just the 2 & 3 finishers in the Derby.  It was also the 5th and 6th place finishers along with the obvious pace casualty up front.  That circuit, to everyone's surprise was almost as dominant as SA in 2012.  I think figuring out which races are the really strong ones is unusually fruitful in trying to figure out the TC races; it has been the last two years, at least.  I say that as someone who saw Golden Soul as obvious...in retrospect ;-)

18 Feb 2014 1:15 PM

Rusty Weisner I think the track surface and the pace of both of the races in 2012 and 2013 tell me a story that will help me determine if I should play speed to hold or play more closers in the exotics of the 2014 Kentucky Derby.IMO Perfect Soul got a good tracking trip in 2013, and saved enough ground and energy where he was able to outgame Revolutionary for the place spot.I lost the exacta because I had Revolutionary but not Perfect Soul,and which ran better in Louisiana,right Revolutionary,so I dont narrow it down like that necessarily, but I try to find the strongest prep and take the winner and possibly the 2nd place finisher depending on the circumstances of the race such as lengths beaten etc

I might even take 3 from the race that I determine was the strongest prep.Dont forget that the points qualifying system has changed the preps somewhat so last year it was hard for me to find the strongest prep.I dont remember if I was able to do that in 2012,but I had the exacta so there is nothing that I can learn from my mistakes because I got the exacta and thats good enough for me,of course I look for the tri or the super when I think its feasable.

18 Feb 2014 2:03 PM

RW dont forget one important facet of the rule changes for qualifying for the KD.This will eliminate sprinters that amassed earnings in sprints from contesting the KD.In 2012 there was a sprinter that helped make the pace faster on a dry track.Last year there were none but the track was sloppy or at least not fast.I also remember the track the year Dosellmeyer ran down sole pace setter in the classic as being an off track at Churchill.

The track condition at 10 furlongs makes A BIG DIFFERENCE at Churchill Downs.

18 Feb 2014 2:40 PM

Look at the big turnaround that Orb and Oxbow made IN ONLY TWO WEEKS TIME when the Preakness was contested on a much better surface than the KD.Ditto for the Belmont as Oxbow finished ahead of Orb.IMO Orb won THE DERBY but Oxbow was the more consistent performer of the 2013 TC series,and I am sure the track surfaces played a part.In 2012 it was fast for both the KD and the Preakness,and guess what the top two were the same for both races being only TWO WEEKS APART.How much really changes in two weeks if the colts dont experience drastic physical changes like injuries or dehydration etc.

18 Feb 2014 2:49 PM

One definition for consistent is: “Unchanging in achievement or effect over a period of time.”

Orb was on the board in all three TC races. Despite the fact that his finishing positions were different in each race, he consistency finished on the board. His consistency of finishing on the board was therefore unchanged.  His achievements conforms the definition of consistent above.

Oxbow was off the board in the Derby and was on in the Preakness and Belmont. The fact that he did not make the board in the Derby, he cannot be placed on the same level of consistency with Orb, irrespective of where he finished in the Preakness and Belmont.

It's not Rocket Science!

18 Feb 2014 4:13 PM

Coldfacts you pick Orb and I pick Oxbow none of this is Scientific or absolute.I wont argue with your pick, of Orb as most consistent, but I will stick with Oxbow IMO being the most consistent he was in the lead in ALL THREE RACES,and the top 3 positions in the 2013 Kentucky Derby were CLOSERS.

18 Feb 2014 5:27 PM

BTW Coldfacts you use the term on the board liberally when stating that Orb was on the board in all 3 TC races.He finished 4th as the favorite in the Preakness and never had a chance to win or was in front in either the Preakness or the Belmont.

18 Feb 2014 6:13 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

Give me the Coin Toss.

19 Feb 2014 2:39 PM

Rusty who are you playing in the FOY,I dont think whoever wins will do so as easily as CP won the Holy Bull.My methodology in the FOY will involve race time decision making as opposed to the HB where my key horse was CP,there wasnt a doubt he was THE NOW HORSE.

Thats not to say I dont have a favorite already Im saying my choice could come in 2nd so betting skill will lead to winning more than I bet.

19 Feb 2014 3:55 PM
Rusty Weisner


Thank you for asking.  Just bear in mind I was had a zero percent ROI on about a dozen Derby preps last year.  As in didn't cash a ticket.

I don't know yet but hopefully will by tomorrow.  I've been snowed under, so to speak, with obligations from my other life and haven't got to play.  I plan to finally get down and dirty with some PPs for the FOY and Risen Star, though, with a slim chance of catching some live racing at Laurel, where they have two rescheduled stakes.

20 Feb 2014 7:53 AM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

For what?  

I have a feeling the dartboard will be ideal for the Derby this year.

20 Feb 2014 7:56 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

You compared the frequency of correct pace projections to the frequency of correct guesses on a coin flip.

20 Feb 2014 10:21 AM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

Just making the point that the pace can confound predictions, and it can be a coin flip.  Not speaking to others' odds on making this prediction right.

21 Feb 2014 10:16 AM

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