The President’s Day holiday has extended this weekend’s Kentucky Derby’s prep race schedule for 3-year-old thoroughbreds to Monday for the running of the $500,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Expect a full field of contenders looking to make their mark on the 2017 Kentucky Derby Trail.
While the actual field for Monday's main event at Oaklawn is still taking shape, there are nine entries currently listed as probable or possible, including Kentucky Derby hopeful Uncontested as well as few other top 3-year-olds who are currently rated by Horse Racing Nation. After going through the projected field for this year's Southwest Stakes, the following are my top three picks for a winning trifecta play.
2017 Southwest Stakes At Oaklawn Park
The Southwest is a Grade 3 stakes race open to three-year old thoroughbreds. The total prize purse has been set at $500,000 and it will be contested on the dirt track at Oaklawn at a distance of 1 1/16 miles.
You almost have to go with Uncontested as the probable morning-line favorite to win this year's Southwest Stakes. This should be a strong field, but I have this Kentucky-bred colt as the cream of the crop on the list of expected entries. Trained by Wayne Catalano, Uncontested made a very successful debut as a 3-year old with a victory in the ungraded Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn on Jan. 16 at a distance of one mile over Petrov and Rowdy the Warrior, who are HRN-rated horses also expected to be in Monday's field.
A pedigree of Tiz Wonderful, Uncontested also ran well against some strong competition in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs with a fourth-place finish behind McCraken, Wild Shot and Warrior's Club in his final race as a juvenile.
My second choice for Monday's Southwest Stakes would be trainer Steve Asmussen's Lookin At Lee. This 3-year-old Kentucky-bred colt first caught my eye with a victory in the ungraded Ellis Park Juvenile in early August at a distance of seven furlongs. He punched his ticket to last season's Breeders' Cup Juvenile with a second-place run in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity Stakes at Keeneland behind Classic Empire at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. Lookin At Lee just missed finishing in the money at Santa Anita in the Juvenile last November with a solid fourth-place run. A pedigree of Lookin At Lucky, he will be making his 3-year-old debut ranked No. 403 at HRN with a rating of 6.80.
Rounding out my trifecta play in the Southwest is another Asmussen-trained 3-year old. Hence is another Kentucky-bred colt is expected to make his debut as a 3-year-old Monday. Following a very disappointing seventh-place finish in the first of three Maiden Special Weight races as a juvenile, he started to progress nicely at longer distances in his next two events. Hence place third at Keeneland at a distance of 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 8 and his final race last season over a mile on the dirt at Churchill Downs, he ended up second to Greeley And Ben.
Hence is a pedigree of Street Boss with a progeny that goes back to Machiavellian. He comes into Monday's race unranked at HRN with rating of 5.12, but I fully expect that to change for the better following his efforts in the Southwest.