As of Feb. 17, California invaders Longview Drive and Secret Circle were among a large group of horses pointing toward the Southwest Stakes (gr. III), which will be run Feb. 20 at Oaklawn Park. A final decision will be made at entry time as to whether or not the race will be split into two divisions, each carrying a $250,000 purse and the grade III status.
Entries for the race will be drawn Feb. 18.
The Southwest has been split twice before in its history, in 1972 and in 2002, but not since it was awarded graded status.
Steve Beneto’s Longview Drive, one of four horses to arrive this week from Southern California for the race, worked at Oaklawn Feb. 17, breezing a half mile in :48 1/5, the second fastest of 50 at the distance.
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Longview Drive is scheduled to be ridden by Martin Garcia, who won of the 2010 Southwest aboard Conveyance.
The son of Pulpit would be making his second start of the season after a third-place finish in the Jan. 7 Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita. He finished just a half-length behind runner-up Secret Circle, who was also on the plane to Hot Springs for the Southwest.
Longview Drive, stabled with Steve Asmussen's string at Oaklawn, was also third in the Delta Down Jackpot Stakes (gr. III) in December. The chestnut colt has won three of six starts while earning $200,000.
Hollendorfer, still in California, said he was told that Longview Drive "worked good. He went over the track real well."