Unbeaten Old Fashioned, at the top of many early prognostications for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), makes his 2009 debut in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park Feb. 16.
A field of 11 is entered for the one-mile dirt test for 3-year-olds. Old Fashioned is the clear standout. The Southwest starts an important three-race series for sophomores at Oaklawn that continues with the $300,000 Rebel (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles March 14, and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) at 1 1/8 miles April 11.
Trainer Larry Jones got off to a good start on the road to the Kentucky Derby with Friesan Fire , a son of A.P. Indy who has already won the Risen Star (gr. III) and Lecomte (gr. III) at Fair Grounds. But most observers feel Jones' best Kentucky Derby hope is Fox Hill Farm’s Old Fashioned.
Jones hopes Old Fashioned can follow in the footsteps of Smarty Jones (2004), Afleet Alex (2005), and Lawyer Ron (2006), who dominated the Arkansas series for 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail. Like those winners, Old Fashioned is blessed with good speed and stamina.
The son of Unbridled's Song won the Remsen (gr. II) at Aqueduct by a dazzling 7 1/4 lengths in his final start of 2008 Nov. 29. He tuned up for the Feb. 16 Southwest with a sharp five-furlong breeze in 1:00 2/5 Feb. 11 at the Hot Springs track.
Jones saddled the ill-fated filly Eight Belles for her runner-up finish in last year’s Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs–a devastating result for the Hopkinsville, Ky., native, who had won the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) one day earlier with Brereton Jones’ Proud Spell. The 52-year-old Jones plans to retire from training at the end of this year.
Old Fashioned began his career with a nose victory over maidens going six furlongs at Delaware Park last October. His true potential, however, became obvious in his next start a month later when he scored by 15 1/2 lengths at Delaware in a first-level allowance heat at one mile. Then came his front-running win in the 1 1/16-mile Remsen.
Old Fashioned breaks from post five, with Ramon Dominguez aboard. Dominguez rode the gray colt for the first time in the Remsen.
Silver City, on a three-race winning streak for trainer Bret Calhoun, looms as Old Fashioned's major threat. Another roan/gray colt by Unbridled's Song, Silver City is coming off a four-length win in Oaklawn's 5 1/2-furlong Dixieland Stakes Jan. 16 in his stakes debut for owner Clarence Scharbauer Jr.
Silver City, who makes his two-turn debut in the Southwest, was purchased at auction for $700,000 by Scharbauer.
Also in the field is Flat Out , an impressive 3 1/2-length victor in the one-mile Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Jan. 19. Flat Out, trained by Charles Dickey for Oxbow Racing, won his stakes debut in off-the-pace style, rallying from sixth in the seven-horse field. The Flatter colt has won his past two starts after beginning his career with an off-the-board showing at Churchill Downs last fall.
Trainer Steve Asmussen is represented by Retap, winner of the Riley Allison Futurity in his last start Dec. 30 at Sunland Park, and Professor Z, who finished seventh as the even-money favorite in the Smarty Jones.
Silver Bayer and Gresham, the respective second- and third-place finishers in the Smarty Jones, are also part of the Southwest field.
$250,000 Southwest Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, 5:02 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Retap (KY), 117, Luis S. Quinonez
2. Loch Dubh (KY), 117, Jon K. Court
3. Silver City (KY), 117, Miguel Mena
4. Gresham (KY), 117, Calvin H. Borel
5. Old Fashioned (KY), 119, Ramon A. Dominguez
6. Buzzin and Dreamin (FL), 115, Israel Ocampo
7. Flat Out (FL), 119, Julio A. Garcia
8. Professor Z (KY), 117, Christopher A. Emigh
9. Poltergeist (TX), 117, Quincy Hamilton
10. Silver Bayer (KY), 115, Terry J. Thompson
11. Kick On (FL), 119, Ken S. Tohill