Long Shots to Challenge Uncontested in Southwest Stakes

The Road to the Roses continues with a Kentucky Derby prep race on President’s Day. The 52nd running of the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park features Smarty Jones Stakes winner Uncontested. The 5/2 favorite will go off at a shorter price at post, and he’ll be tough to track down with a 96 Beyer speed figure in his last face registering eight points more than the next best speed figure in the Southwest field of 13 runners.

But the $500,000 Southwest Stakes has some challengers and horses that could pay a nice price when wagering in the exotics. Let’s examine some long shots who could chase down Uncontested and earn some Derby points with a top-4 finish (10-4-2-1).

Lookin at Lee (8-1) is a talented son of Lookin at Lucky, who won the 2010 Preakness Stakes. He finished 4th to Derby contender Classic Empire in the Breeders’ Cup Futurity in November, and his deep closing kick is one to watch as the pace is expected to be very fast in the Southwest with Uncontested out front pressed by Petrov (5-1), One Liner (7/2) and Cool Arrow (12-1). Should the race set up as expected, Lookin at Lee should be running hard at the finish as he shows his continued improvement with both distance and racing into 2017.

Warriors Club (12-1) did not like the sloppy track in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn while finishing 4th behind Uncontested Jan 16. That’s a concern as near a 50% chance of rain is in the forecast for Monday racing at Oaklawn. However, note Warriors Club did finish 3rd just in front of a fading Uncontested in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill in November, so he’s one to consider in exotic wagering.

Silver Dust (10-1) makes his stakes debut off his maiden win at Churchill Downs in November. He hasn’t race since, but trainer Randy Morse is solid with this type off a layoff. The well-bred son of Tapit will likely continue to improve rapidly, and these are the type of races where an unknown can come alive. The breeding says he can compete here, but he’ll have to rate well under jockey Corey Lanerie and have a lot left for the final furlong.

Hence (20-1) is most intriguing at this price, as the Street Boss colt should also ascend under trainer Steve Asmussen following his maiden win last month and a pair of solid works leading into the Southwest.

The Grade III Southwest Stakes is race 9 at 6:09 ET on Monday, Feb. 20 at Oaklawn Park, and follows the race 7 Razorback Handicap.

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