When the March Madness picks are set each season, it's never surprising to see the Gonzaga Bulldogs on the shortlist of potential NCAA Tournament champions.
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2018 Southwest Stakes Picks
Southwest Stakes Preview and Odds
As the second of four Derby qualifying races to be run at Oaklawn, the Southwest is also the final race in the qualifying series to award points on a 10-4-2-1 scale. For most of the remaining 13 races held in the US, points to the winner jump to 50 and then 100.
The field for the Southwest is led by morning line favorite Mourinho (2-1) the winner of the first Derby qualifying race at Oaklawn, when he took the Smarty Jones Stakes in mid-January with relative ease, beating a small field of four others by 3 1/4 lengths. That was his second lifetime victory in four starts to go along with two runner-up finishes, including the (G3) Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar in southern California.
On that day he was beaten by a 20-1 long shot named Greyvitos, who then went on to win again in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park. Trained by Bob Baffert and sired by 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, expect Mourhino to be involved in the early pace mix right out of the gate. He right now sits in 15th place on the Derby leaderboard.
Lukas Contender Coming Off Long Layoff
He's facing a tougher field here than he did in the Smarty Jones, and he's going to have to contend with Sporting Chance (9-2) breaking from his inside. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee is already a Grade 1 Stakes winner by dint of hitting the wire first in the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga last September, in a race that included a pair of current Kentucky Derby contenders in Free Drop Billy and Firenze Fire. That was his second win in three lifetime starts, but he's stretching out here past a seven furlongs for the first time and he has also been off since that race, so he might just need this one to get back into top condition.
Another that gave Firenze Fire all he could handle but just came up short is Seven Trumpets (10-1) who finished just a half-length back in the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct in mid-January after leading for most of the way. The Aqueduct track was muddy and slow that day and that may have worked to his favor, but prior to that he claimed first place clicking off quick fractions in an allowance race on a fast track at Churchill Downs. Distance may be an issue for him, but he's a very interesting top-four play at what should be decent odds.
In what looks on paper to be a race that will have a lot of speed up front, Combatant (6-1) should be in prime position to pounce if the front-runners burn themselves out. He has been competitive at the stakes level, running second to both Mourinho and Greyvitos in the Smarty Jones and Springboard Mile, respectively. In contrast to Seven Trumpets, the distance should not be an issue, and with an expected fast pace, his mid-pack, late-running style could be the recipe for the upset of the top two as they charge toward the wire.
The Southwest Stakes goes Monday, February 19 from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It's race #9 of 10 on the holiday card at Oaklawn that also features the (G3) Razorback Stakes. Scheduled post time for the Southwest is 5:10 PM Central.
Entries w/ML Odds
- My Boy Jack (12-1)
- Sporting Chance (9-2)
- Principe Guilherme (4-1)
- Mourinho (2-1)
- Road To Damascus (15-1)
- Seven Trumpets (10-1)
- Retirement Fund (15-1)
- Zing Zang (15-1)
- Kentucky Club (30-1)
- Combatant (6-1)
- Ezmosh (12-1)
Southwest Stakes Picks
- 1) #10 - Combatant
- 2) #4 - Mourinho
- 3) #2 - Sporting Chance
- 4) #6 - Seven Trumpets
If you're not enjoying the long weekend at the Oaklawn track, you can bet the Southwest Stakes and the full card of racing with an account at Bovada's online racebook. And don't forget to check out their future bet options for the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
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