Southwest Stakes Draws a G1 Field for a G3 Race

The 18th Running of the G3 Southwest Stakes

Saturday, January 28, 2023

OP Race #2 $750.000

3YOs  121/116 Lbs 11/16

KYD POINTS RACE (20-8-6-4-2)

Course Record-1:40.34 (Jesse James-2012)

Stakes Record-1:41.32 (Coup de Lyon-2016)

The 2nd weekend of 20-point KYD preps continues down in Arkansas as OP will hold their 18th running of the G3 Southwest Stakes.  With its $750.000 purse, this one was always destined to draw better than your typical G3; however, the folks in Hot Springs have to be thrilled with the field of 14 that is scheduled to run.  Hiei was withdrawn shortly after the draw and Hunters Ridge will get in from the AE list.  There’s a lot to dissect so let’s dig into this monster group that will contest the G3 Southwest!

#1 Gorogue Laga (Arindel/L. Saez 121): Rail-horse was among the best of his generation last year with a G1 and G2 to his credit as well as a runner-up in the BG Juvenile.  Works suggest this one is primed but must carry his form over in his first spin on this race engine.

#2 At The Gates (Mb Stables/P. Lopez 121): Gelding really came into his own during the last quarter of ’22 and has already faced G3 foes twice in just four career starts.  Ran too well to lose at WO in November and should be ready to fire first up off the bench.

#3 Hiei (Fractious/SCRATCHED)

#4 Jedi Order (Delta Farms/J.C. Ferrer 121): He was eating-up the ground in seasonal debut over this strip but fell just short in the Smarty Jones on NYD.  Winner of that one returns here as well so this should be somewhat of a case study for the new engine as it has been a bit more forgiving to horses with this one’s style.

#5 Tokyo Story (Smokey Stover/A. Cedillo 116): Our first of three fillies in here, this gal enters off of a G2 score at CD in November.  She gets the five-pound weight break and gets to move in a slot with the scratch of the three; however, she took two cracks at G1 fillies last year and fared no better than 4th beaten a length.

#6 Sweet Shine (Mb Stables/Ru. Silvera 121): Gelding enters with a three-race winning streak with the aforementioned Smarty Jones being his latest tally.  Was very tactical on the old engine and that should help him get position in his first spin on this iteration.

#7 Temperature (Aer Stables/D. Moran 116): Second filly in the field has taken three of five starts and is a two-time stakes winner.  The November seasonal finale was her best race as he she was able to stretch-out nicely in a G3 score.  Does retain the services of the jock from her latest, but not sure how forgiving this engine will be in the battle of the sexes.

#8 Crack The Party (Maxmillion Farm/E. Jaramillo 121): Colt sold for $265.000 in December before breaking his maiden going down the hill at SA in his seasonal bow.  Conditioner didn’t provide a life jacket for this first crack at winners, but it’s difficult to question his judgement.  January 11th move says he’s here on business.

#9 The Alchemist (Nakamura Stables/D.E. Centeno 121): Gelding captured G3 Street Sense before running a non-factoring 7th in the Springboard Mile.  Showed some useful tactical ability on the old engine that could help him ease his way to the rail in here.  Easier to forgive that last-out as he transitions to the new engine.

#10 Quiet Return (Allinthegate/T. Gaffalione 121): Gelding took the G1 BC Juvenile Turf before returning six-weeks later to just miss in a G2 at LA.  That run was encouraging enough to see him get a crack here as he tries to win on the main track for the first time in four starts.  Keeps the pilot for the fifth consecutive race after four straight exacta finishes.

#11 Beautifully Grusome (TwinTowersRacing/Mar. Garcia 116): Our third and final filly took a 6f PID MSW before stretching out to win a $200.000 CD stake.  Nothing wrong with the runner-up effort in the G2 Golden Rod; however, seasonal debut saw her not able to make an impact at seven panels.  Weight Break helps, but she’ll need to show better than she did 27-days ago.

#12 State Of Fury (Alydar Stables/F.T. Alvarado 121): Colt took a DMR MSW and a SA G1 before failing to fire in the BC at KEE.  Bounced-back with a solid rally to be the runner-up in the Springboard Mile last month.  The outside post for a horse with his style hasn’t been the death-knell that it was previously, so this is another one that could give clues into the new race engine dynamics.

#13 Napples (Mo Mentum Farm/J.R. Velazquez 121): Winner in three of his five races, he’s never been out of the exacta.  Brings a two-race winning streak (AQU N1X and CD G2) into this and appeared to be really getting good when we last saw him.  Has to show he’s matured from juvenile to sophomore, but he is one that seems to bring his race wherever he shows up.

#14 American Grandeur (TwinTowersRacing/Mario Gutierrez 121): With just a maiden win from seven starts, he may be an under-the-radar type here; however, he ran well enough in his losses to earn a spot in the gate at the BC.  Now, all of that good work came on the lawn, so he’ll have to show he can transfer that form over to the main track on the new engine.

#15 Hunters Ridge (Nakamura Stables/S. Elliott 121): Colt broke his maiden on debut at SRP in May before going to the sidelines.  Returned in the fall with two ITM finishes on the lawn before winning a $25.000 stake at FG last month.  Has to prove he can stretch-out against some of the best of his generation but have to feel like the trainer likes him to give him this shot.

Final Analysis: On the old engine we would have been hard-pressed to go against the rail horse, and to be honest, we can’t blame anyone for not trying to beat him.  We’ll call it 13-12-1 in a well-matched field for the G3 Southwest Stakes.  Good luck to everyone on our first massive weekend of racing in 2023!

Categories: Grade III, Races, STAKES ARTICLES

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