Tapiture, Walt Work Between Races at Oaklawn
Photo: Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs
Tapiture won the 2013 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

Even though the Oaklawn Park track was closed to training Feb. 13, trainers Steve Asmussen and Chris Hartman slipped in a pair of final workouts for their Southwest Stakes (gr. III) hopefuls between the first and second races on the program.

The $300,000 Southwest, a key 1 1/16-mile prep for the Arkansas Derby (gr. I), is on Presidents' Day, Feb. 17. Oaklawn, which was forced to cancel four days of racing and training because of severe winter weather, keep the track closed for training Thursday in order to have the oval in good shape for racing.

Asmussen's Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) winner Tapiture, who had been training in New Orleans, worked a half mile in :50 flat in his first effort over the Oaklawn surface.

"I loved it," said Asmussen. "The horse went over the racetrack well. That's what we were hoping for. He showed up fit. I just wanted to give him a little feel of the racetrack."

Hartman worked Smarty Jones runner-up Walt a half-mile in company under jockey Ken Tohill with maiden Skydive. The Run Away and Hide   colt covered the distance in :47 1/5.

"It was a good work," said Hartman. "It wasn't exactly how we had planned it, because the other horse was supposed to be in front to start, but Walt finished up well, which was what we were looking for. We'll see how he is in the morning and make our final decision about the race."

Entries for the Southwest will be taken the morning of Feb. 14 and a field of between 10 and 12 horses is expected. Probables include Bourbonize, Coastline, Jet Cat, Kendall's Boy, Louies Flower, Paganol, Ride On Curlin, Son of Dixie, Strong Mandate, Tapiture, Tanzanite Cat, and Walt.

On Feb. 12, trainers Bret Calhoun and Cody Autrey sent their Southwest Stakes prospects to Evangeline Training Center in Carencro, La., for their final workouts. Carenco is about six hours south of Oaklawn.

Calhoun plans to start both his Springboard Mile winner Louies Flower and Son of Dixie, who was most recently third behind another Southwest hopeful, Bourbonize, on opening day.

"Louies Flower and Son of Dixie both worked an easy half and galloped out seven-eighths," Calhoun said. "It was a nice controlled work and went perfect. The plan right now is to run both in the Southwest. Both horses will ship back to Oaklawn on Saturday."

Autrey is also is likely to have two runners in the Southwest with Smarty Jones winner Tanzanite Cat and impressive Oaklawn maiden winner Paganol, both owned by James and Ywachetta Driver.

"They worked together in 48 and a tick and galloped out in 1:01 3/5," said Autrey. "That's a real good work for that track."

Paganol will be ridden by Oaklawn's leading rider, Norberto Arroyo Jr., and Tanzanite Cat will be ridden by Southern California-based jockey Corey Nakatani.

"Corey's a good friend and a world class rider," said Autrey. "He's ridden a lot of winners for me."
 

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