Turf War comes off a dead-heat victory in the Delta Jackpot to take on 10 in the Southwest Stakes.

Turf War comes off a dead-heat victory in the Delta Jackpot to take on 10 in the Southwest Stakes.

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Southwest: Turf War Looks for More

Coming off his Delta Jackpot win, the colt looks to solidify Derby position Feb. 18.

Woodford Racing’s Turf War, who rallied willingly for a dead-heat victory in the Dec. 7 Delta Jackpot (gr. III), will look to solidify his standing as a legitimate Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender but will have to tackle 10 hungry 3-year-olds in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes Feb. 18 at Oaklawn Park.

Also involved in the one-mile Southwest are a pair of good-looking colts who will make their stakes debut, Denis of Cork and Sacred Journey. In addition, Liberty Bull, winner of last month’s Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn, and Silver Edition, second in the Hutcheson (gr. II), will try to take another step along the Derby trail.

Turf War, bred in Kentucky by Will Farish, E.J. Husdon, and James Elkins, was fourth at the top of the stretch in the 1 1/16-mile Delta Jackpot, but unleashed a furious move under Calvin Borel to catch Z Humor at the wire. It was the Dixie Unioncolt’s third victory in five career starts, with the $400,000 winner’s share going a long way towards assuring him a spot in the May 3 Derby.

Out of the Mr. Prospector mare Grass Skirt, Turf War made the first four starts of his career for trainer Mark Casse at Woodbine. A full brother to Grasshopper, he came from off the pace in his other two wins as well. Borel will get the return call on the bay colt.

Denis of Cork and Sacred Journey both enter off allowance victories at Fair Grounds and will attempt to use the Southwest as a springboard to the Derby just as several past winners have done in recent years (Smarty Jones , Lawyer Ron, Teuflesberg).

Denis of Cork, trained by David Carroll and owned by Mr. and Mrs. William Warren Jr., is undefeated in two starts. The Harlan's Holiday colt broke his maiden in a seven furlong event at Churchill Downs Nov. 24 and then won by a head in a two-turn, first-level allowance over a sloppy track at Fair Grounds last month. Borel rode in that one, but Robby Albarado will be in the irons on Monday.

Interestingly, Alabardo was aboard Sacred Journey in both of the Unbridled's Songcolt’s wins at Fair Grounds, but Julien Leparoux will now take over. Sacred Journey, a $325,000 yearling purchase for Thomas Vanderhyde, earned both his victories in six furlong sprints, the most recent one coming by 2 ½ lengths Jan. 4.

Sacred Journey trainer Dallas Stewart told Daily Racing Form that he is looking forward to more distance. “We're just trying to progressively stretch him out. You don't ever know until you run them, but we've been working him longer, and he's got good stamina; and he has a very nice pedigree - so we're hoping. We're going to find out a little bit more about him on Monday.

"He's a very quick horse. He'll probably be close to the lead if not on the lead, I would think."

A pair of Holy Bull colts, Liberty Bull and Isabull, will take a crack at the Southwest after running one-two in the Smarty Jones Jan. 21. Liberty Bull, trained by Tom Amoss, won by a neck after dueling in the stretch.

D. Wayne Lukas trainee Silver Edition was a disappointing fourth in the Feb. 2 Swale Stakes (gr. II) and, with just one win in six career starts, would seem to be in need of a good showing to stay in the Derby hunt.

$250,000 Southwest Stakes (Race 9, 5:02 p.m.), Three-Year-Olds, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Silver Edition (KY), 115, Joe Bravo
2. He's Eze (FL), 119, Luis S. Quinonez
3. Liberty Bull (KY), 119, Eusebio Razo, Jr.
4. Sacred Journey (KY), 117, Julien R. Leparoux
5. Turf War (KY), 119, Calvin H. Borel
6. Sierra Sunset (CA), 119, Christopher A. Emigh
7. Isabull (KY), 115, Timothy T. Doocy
8. Denis of Cork (FL), 117, Robby Albarado
9. Gangbuster (KY), 115, Kirk Paul LeBlanc
10. Riley Tucker (KY), 115, Kent J. Desormeaux
11. Royal Hudson (KY), 119, Richard Harvey Hamel