Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – Supertrainers Bob Baffert and Steve
Asmussen have won five of the last six runnings of the Southwest Stakes.
Meanwhile, Todd Pletcher, the other supertrainer, has zero wins.
The last time Pletcher ran a horse in the Southwest was back in 2010 when
Mission Impazible finished fourth, beaten 4 1/4 lengths by Baffert’s
After a five-year absence, Pletcher is back with J S Bach, who broke his
maiden on Jan. 17 with an eye-catching triumph at Gulfstream Park. The bay
colt led gate to wire in the 1 1/16-mile race defeating another Pletcher-
trained colt, Old Mountain Lane, by 8 1/2 lengths.
Old Mountain Lane came into the race off a nose loss to Itsaknockout, who
proceeded to win next time out by 5 1/4 lengths while running a 1:35 mile at
Not only does J S Bach make a huge jump in class, but he is leaving his home
base of Florida, where he ran and trained all winter. He also comes into
Oaklawn Park with the least number of starts among the entrants. Prior to his
smashing victory, J S Bach finished second in his only other appearance – a
maiden race for Florida breds at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 12.
Can he overcome the lack of experience and find his way into the Oaklawn Park
winner’s circle on Monday, Feb. 16? It is a distinct possibility as six of the
last seven Southwest Stakes winners were either on the lead or second after
the first quarter-mile. J S Bach’s running style should have him vying for the
lead around the first turn, especially if he draws an inside post.
J S Bach’s chief rivals in the Southwest are Far Right, Bayerd and Mr. Z – the
first three finishers in the Smarty Jones Stakes – as well as War Story, second
in the LeComte Stakes and Bold Conquest, and third in last year’s Breeders’
Far Right was the beneficiary of Mr. Z’s wayward effort in the Smarty Jones.
Ridden by Mike Smith, Far Right prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths over Bayerd despite
leading just one of the nine horses around the far turn. The $2,500 yearling
also was assisted by a quick pace (23, 46 4/5 and 1:11 3/5) set by 52-1 shot
Bayerd must be respected off the second-place finish in the Smarty Jones.
He has run six times with three wins, two seconds and a third, while banking
over $300,000 in earnings. Expect him to sit third or fourth behind Mr. Z and
J S Bach and Kantune in the early portion of the race. Whether he is able to
maintain that position or advance into the top two spots remains to be seen.
Mr. Z would up third in the Smarty Jones after sitting second behind American
Sailor for much of the race. The son of Malibu Moon probably would have won if
he had not veered out into the stretch, losing valuable ground.
Prior to the Smarty Jones, Mr. Z lost to Dortmund and Firing Line in the Los
Alamitos Futurity’s three-horse photo. He also finished a nose behind Ocho
Ocho Ocho in the Delta Jackpot.
If J S Bach or Mr. Z fail to get the job done, look for War Story to pick up
the pieces. Despite losing the LeComte to International Star, the gelding ran
a dynamite race given the fact it was his second start in 20 days.
War Story was limited to just one workout (a four-furlong breeze in 51 2/5) in
between those two races. Trainer Tom Amoss worked him three times, including a
bullet 47-second, four-furlong work, since the LeComte. War Story also gains
the services of Joe Talamo, who replaces James Graham in the saddle.
Bold Conquest returns to the races for the first time since running behind
Carpe Diem and Mr. Z in the Breeders’ Futurity back on Oct. 4. Even though he
was third, he still was beaten 12 lengths, including almost six by Mr. Z.
However, he finished 9 1/2 lengths ahead of Mr. Z in his prior race – the
Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Steve Asmussen, who is looking for back-to-back Southwest Stakes
victories, has Bold Conquest working up a storm with a pair of five-furlong
Southwest – 1) J S Bach, 2) War Story, 3) Bold Conquest, LS) Kantune
10 GO POSTWARD IN SATURDAY’S EL CAMINO REAL DERBY
The El Camino Real Derby has never produced a Kentucky Derby winner, but it has
sent out two second-place finishers in Casual Lies (1992) and Cavonnier
(1996), a Preakness winner in Tank’s Prospect (1985) and a Belmont Stakes
winner in Tabasco Cat (1994). Still, the El Camino Real winner has not been
much of a factor on the Derby trail since the mid-1990s.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer won last year’s meeting with Tamarando while the
ill-fated Dance With Fate finished second. This year, Hollendorfer has three
of the 10 entrants for Saturday’s race, including Cross the Line, winner of
the California Derby the last time out, and Stand and Salute, third in the
California Derby after winning the Gold Rush two starts back.
Also in the field are Soul Driver, second in the California Derby; Mischief
Clem, the Cal Cup Derby champ; Conquest Typhoon, fourth in the Breeders’ Cup
Juvenile Turf; Indianaughty, a winner of two consecutive races; and Metaboss,
who broke his maiden on the turf at Santa Anita last time out.
The California Derby was an oddly run race. Two high-priced horses opened up a
five-length lead on Cross the Line and Soul Driver after a half-mile run in 47
4/5 seconds. Stand and Salute made a run to within two lengths off the lead
into the far turn but got shuffled back, losing a few lengths around the turn.
At the top of the stretch, Cross the Line took over the lead as he moved to
the three-path, outside the fading leaders. Tyler Baze, the rider of Soul
Driver, had to check his mount on the inside, which might have cost his horse
a chance to win. Soul Driver wound up second, 1 3/4 lengths behind Cross the
Line, who enjoyed a traffic-free trip. Meanwhile, Stand and Salute was forced
eight-wide into the stretch and finished third, beaten just two lengths.
The main question is: how good are the local horses compared to the rest of
Mischief Clem has been tackling California-breds Acceptance, Pulmarack and
Kluszewski his last two starts with one win and a fourth. He was engaged in a
tremendous stretch drive with Pulmarack in the Cal Cup Derby before pulling
out the victory by a head. It might be awfully tough for him to come right
back in three weeks after such a grueling effort.
Conquest Typhoon has run twice on synthetics at Woodbine with two seconds.
He’s been working well off the layoff for Mark Casse, so expect a solid
Indianaughty won by five lengths on synthetics in Great Britain last August
before winning on the turf at Gulfstream Park last month. Team Valor usually
knows what they are doing when placing their horses in the right spot, but
another long trip, this time to California, could be an issue.
Metaboss was dominant in his last start, breaking his maiden on the turf in
1:49 1/5 for the nine furlongs. He is one of three in the race to have gone 1
1/8 miles, so he does have somewhat of an advantage. However, the son of Street
Boss has never run on synthetics.
El Camino Real – 1) Metaboss, 2) Conquest Typhoon, 3) Soul Driver, LS) Stand
Also on the Golden Gate card is first-time starter Seattle Serenade. Trained
by Jerry Hollendorfer, the bay colt has been tearing it up in the mornings
over the last 50 days. He also is bred to be a monster. The $1 million
yearling is by Smart Strike out of an A.P Indy mare, Serenading, who was
champion older mare in Canada back in 2009.
Seattle Serenade’s second dam, Daijin, is a full sister to Belmont Stakes
winner Touch Gold and a half-sister to With Approval, Canada’s Triple Crown
winner and Horse of the Year in 1989.
Seattle Serenade might want more ground than six furlongs, but the 3-year-old
maiden is one to watch as the year moves along.
THE 2015 JEFF FRANK “DIRTY DOZEN”
1) American Pharoah – Makes 2015 debut in Rebel Stakes on March 14
2) Dortmund – Next stop Santa Anita Derby after phenomenal Lewis
3) Carpe Diem – Now targeting Tampa Bay Derby for 3-year-old debut
4) Firing Line – Unfortunate loser to Dortmund in Robert B. Lewis
5) Upstart – New York-bred ridgling on pace for Fountain of Youth
6) Texas Red – Foot abscess knocks Juvenile winner from Risen Star
7) Far From Over – Dramatic performance in Withers moves him way up
8) Ocho Ocho Ocho – The forgotten 3-year-old returns on March 7
9) Lord Nelson – Worked four in 48 seconds 10 days after San Vicente
10) Ocean Knight – Might run in Gotham to avoid Carpe Diem in Tampa
11) Khozan – Prepping for Fla. Derby with allowance race on FOY undercard
12) Imperia – Risen Star now looks a bit easier without Texas Red