Five projected starters for Monday’s Southwest Stakes completed their final major Wednesday morning at Oaklawn, including Mr. Z, who worked a half-mile in :49.20.
Trainer Wayne Lukas said he’s been “fooling with some different bridles” during training hours on Mr. Z, who is coming off a troubled third-place finish in the Smarty Jones Stakes after veering out sharply in the stretch and blowing a daylight lead when struck left-handed by Jon Court. He also has shown a tendency to get out in other races and during training hours.
Lukas said Mr. Z was on his best behavior Wednesday, when he worked from the half-mile pole to the wire about 10 minutes after the track opened. Clockers caught his final quarter-mile in :22.80. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.60.
“That’s about as good as I can get him,” Lukas said. “It was a pretty work, really pretty – without incident, straight as a string. Everything’s good.”
Four other Southwest probables also worked Wednesday.
Lukas said he also plans to start Majestico in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest after the Majesticperfection colt worked a half-mile in :51 about five minutes before Mr. Z breezed. He exits a fifth-place finish in a Jan. 19 allowance/optional claimer at the Southwest distance. Corey Nakatani replaces Court on Mr. Z, and Terry Thompson will ride Majestico.
War Story recorded a bullet half-mile in :47.00 for trainer Tom Amoss. War Story, who worked about five minutes after Mr. Z, covered his final quarter in :22.40 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.20.
Bayerd worked a half-mile in :51, with the last quarter timed in :25.00, for trainer Steve Asmussen. Asmussen’s other scheduled Southwest starter, Bold Conquest, will work Thursday morning.
Instant Replay, another projected Southwest starter, worked five furlongs in 1:03.20 after the break for trainer Wayne Catalano. The Jan. 19 first-level allowance winner galloped out six furlongs in 1:18.20.
Oaklawn racing secretary Pat Pope listed 11 probables for the Southwest late Wednesday morning. In addition to Mr. Z, Majestico, War Story, Bayerd, Bold Conquest and Instant Replay -- Far Right, Private Prospect, Kantune, The Truth Or Else and J S Bach are expected, Pope said. Post positions for the Southwest will be drawn Friday.
Edited Oaklawn Park release