Strong Mandate, winner of the G1-Hopeful at Saratoga last September and a good third place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, leads a field of twelve in Monday's Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. (Post time: 6:09 pm Eastern/TV: HRTV & TVG) The Southwest is part of the official Road to the 2014 Kentucky Derby prep race series; the winner earns 10 points towards a spot in the starting gate for this year's Run for the Roses.
The highlight of Strong Mandate's juvenile campaign was his utter destruction of a field of 10 in the Hopeful Stakes by almost ten lengths at the wire. He won that day by stalking the early speed and then exploding away from his rivals in the stretch. In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Strong Mandate set the early fractions on the Santa Anita main track and then gamely held on for third in the latter stages after New Year's Day and Havana made their moves.* He's won races by leading all the way or by running a length off the pace. The two times Strong Mandate didn't get to the front early, he lost by double digit lengths.
*It’s important to note the ground loss Strong Mandate incurred in the Juvenile from his wide post position (#13);according to the Trakus data, Strong Mandate ran 18 feet further than winner New Year’s Day. (Second place finisher Havana, covered an additional 25 and 7 feet as compared to New Year’s Day and Strong Mandate, respectively.)
The colts expected to join Strong Mandate in the start gate are:
Tapiture: Winner of the G2-Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs and third in the G3-Iroquois, also at the home of the Derby.
Coastline: Third in the local Smarty Jones Stakes; 8th in the Delta Jackpot in the final start of his juvenile season.
Tanzanite Cat: Won the aforementioned Smarty Jones by a length and a quarter back on January 20th after pressing the early speed for the entire race.
Louies Flower: A winner of three races at Remington Park in Oklahoma, including the one mile Springboard Mile. Like Tanzanite Cat, Louies Flower likes to show a good amount of early speed.
Kendall's Boy: Won an OC/N1X sprint at the Fair Grounds last time out in gate-to-wire fashion.
Panganol: Just one race to his resume and it was a win against Maiden Special Weight company at Oaklawn on January 11th.
Walt: Another horse coming out of the Smarty Jones, Walt ran on the lead through the early splits but couldn't shake Tanazanite Cat in the stretch drive and had to settle for second. He's another colt that prefers to run on or near the lead in the early stages. I'm sensing a theme.
Ride On Curlin: Fourth in the Iroquois and third in the Champagne; this colt flashed a lot of potential last summer but has leveled out a bit in his development in the last six months. He's run races good enough to beat this field but, as is the case with a lot of juveniles, you got to wonder if his early success was simply a result of his early development and if the rest of his brethren have caught up to him. Oh, and he's also run his best races up near the front.
Son of Dixie: Winner of a maiden race in five lifetime starts and facing graded stakes company for the first time.
Fire Starter: Fifth in the local Smarty Jones; he broke his maiden by 10 lengths at Laurel on New Year's Eve.
Bourbonize: Love the name and the two-for-two start to his career after breaking his maiden at Churchill and scoring in an N1X event at Oaklawn over the slop last time out. This gelding has run three or four lengths back of the lead in each of his victories and could get a great set-up for a big run in this race.
Below are the entries and post positions for Monday's Southwest Stakes.
Morning line odds will be added when released
|2||1||Tapiture||R. Santana, Jr.||S. Asmussen||3/1|
|3||2||Coastline||S. Bridgmohan||M. Casse||8/1|
|1||3||Tanzanite Cat||C. Nakatani||C. Autrey||8/1|
|4||4||Louies Flower||L. Quinonez||W. Calhoun||12/1|
|5||5||Kendall's Boy||L. Goncalves||T. Amoss||12/1|
|1a||6||Paganol||N. Aroyyo, Jr.||C. Autrey||8/1|
|7||8||Strong Mandate||J. Rosario||D.W. Lukas||2/1|
|8||9||Ride On Curlin||C. Borel||W. Gowan||6/1|
|9||10||Son of Dixie||M. Berry||W. Calhoun||30/1|
|10||11||Fire Starter||R. Albarado||S. Hobby||20/1|
|11||12||Bourbonize||R. Vazquez||K. Gorder||15/1|