They meet again. The two morning line favorites in the Southwest Stakes, that is.
With a winter storm bearing down on Hot Springs, trainers said they are still hopeful the Southwest Stakes will be run as scheduled, and none more than Ron Moquett and D. Wayne Lukas.
“I just want to run,” said Lukas, who trains Mr. Z, third to Far Right in the Smarty Jones Stakes. “It really throws a wrench in your plans if we don’t. You have to readjust all that stuff.”
The Southwest will mark the third meeting between Far Right, the 3-1 program favorite, and Mr. Z, the early 7-2 second choice. Far Right finished a troubled third in the Delta Jackpot Stakes on Nov. 22 at Delta Downs and Mr. Z finished second, beaten a nose.
Far Right turned the tables on Mr. Z in the Smarty Jones Stakes under Mike Smith, who's named again on Monday. Mr. Z turned for home with a clear lead before veering out suddenly after being struck left-handed by Jon Court.
“It’s horse racing,” Lukas said. “I just think the horse caught Jon by surprise.”
Far Right received a ground-saving trip in the Smarty Jones and is coming up to the race well, trainer Ron Moquett said. He is scheduled to break from post 2.
“Perfect,” Moquett said. “It’s almost like I drew it.”
Moquett said Smith was traveling from his Southern California base Sunday, adding he also hopes the race will be run as scheduled. If the Southwest has to be postponed, Moquett and co-owner Harry Rosenblum said they were unsure if they could retain Smith because of possible prior commitments.
“We are ready for whatever they let us do,” Moquett said. “If they say that we’re not running, we’ll go from there. But, we’re planning on running.”
Among other contenders in the Southwests is Todd Pletcher trainee J S Bach, who ran second in his career debut before breaking his maiden by 8 1/2 lengths Jan. 17 at Gulfstream Park. The Tale of the Cat colt is scheduled to break from the rail while retaining the services of John Velazquez.
Bayerd and Private Prospect, second and fourth in the Smarty Jones, return in the Southwest. Bold Conquest, who finished second, beaten a neck, in the Iroquois Stakes, would make his 3-year-old debut in the Southwest. He and Bayerd are both trained by Asmussen.
The field, in post position order: JS Bach, John Velazquez, 4-1; Far Right, Mike Smith, 3-1; Private Prospect, Alex Birzer, 15-1; Bayerd, Ramon Vazquez, 8-1; The Truth or Else, Calvin Borel, 20-1; Kantune, Shaun Bridgmohan, 15-1; Phenomenal Phoenix, Cliff Berry, 30-1; Majestico, Terry Thompson, 30-1; Bold Conquest, Ricardo Santana Jr., 12-1; Mr. Z, Corey Nakatani, 7-2; War Story, Joe Talamo, 4-1, and Bold Animaux, Israel Ocampo, 30-1.
Edited Oaklawn Park release with additional content by Dick Downey