By Margaret Ransom
The 57th running of the Southwest Stakes (G3) returns to Oaklawn Park in its regular spot as the Rebel Stakes (G2) prep on Saturday, a year after it was delayed nearly two weeks due to a winter storm. The race drew a full field of 12, including Smarty Jones (G3) winner Dash Attack and a pair from California trained by Phil D’Amato (Don’tcrossthedevil) and Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who sends out 2-1 favorite Newgrange.
In the previous 56 runnings, only Smarty Jones in 2004 made it to the winner’s circle after the Kentucky Derby. But a lot of other good horses have won the Southwest, some making it to the Derby and others going on to have exceptional racing careers.
The well-traveled New Mexico-based Bold Ego won the Southwest in 1981 and though well-beaten in the Derby, did manage to earn a second-place finish in the Preakness. Demons Begone won the Southwest, the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby (G1) in 1987 and was the favorite for the Derby. But the horse bled so profusely through his nostrils during the race that jockey Pat Day had to pull him up for the horse’s safety.
Champion Smoke Glacken was a Southwest winner before distance limitations kept him sprinting. He earned an Eclipse Award as that year’s best runner around one turn. Some other notable Southwest winners include Lawyer Ron, Old Fashioned, Secret Circle, My Boy Jack, and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Essential Quality a year ago.
John Ed Anthony’s Loblolly Stable, which was shuttered in 1994, remains the leading owner with three wins here and the late trainer Bob Holthus saddled five winners over his career. Two jockeys – the late Larry Snyder and Rafael Bejarano each have three winners on their resume, the latter winning twice in 2012 when the race was run in two divisions.
This year the 1 1/16-mile race carries a $750,000 purse and 10 points on the Road to the Derby for the winner. The race has a post time of 5:22 p.m. ET. The week’s frigid temperatures will have warmed up slightly by Saturday to reach the lower 50s.
Here’s the Southwest field in post-position order (with jockey, trainer, and odds):
- Ben Diesel (Jon Court, Dallas Stewart), 10-1
- Dash Attack (David Cohen, Ken McPeek), 7-2
- Don’tcrossthedevil (Ramon Vazquez, Phil D’Amato), 30-1
- Kavod (Francisco Arrieta, Chris Hartman), 12-1
- Costa Terra (Tiago Pereira, Steve Asmussen), 12-1
- Osbourne (David Cabrera, Ron Moquett), 8-1
- Ignitis (Luis Contreras, D. Wayne Lukas), 10-1
- Barber Road (Ricardo Santana, Jr., John Ortiz), 5-1
Race Day—Encounter, by Southern Image
- Classic Moment (Martin Garcia, Steve Asmussen), 12-1
- Newgrange (John Velazquez, Bob Baffert), 2-1
- Call Me Jamal (Geovanni Franco, Mike Puhich), 30-1
- Vivar (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox), 12-1
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law in Kentucky known as the “Borell Law.”Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time.She lives in Robinson, Texas, with her longtime beau, Tony. She is the executive director of the 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue, The Bridge Sanctuary.