Road to Derby: J S Bach Gets Call in Southwest at Oaklawn Park

11 Derby hopefuls will head to the gate in Monday’s Southwest at Oaklawn Park. (photo credit: Oaklawn Park)

Eleven Kentucky Derby hopefuls will head to the gate on Monday in the $300,000 Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park, one of three races that are part of the Road to the Derby series of races at the Hot Springs, Arkansas racetrack.

It will be anything but hot in Hot Springs, with freezing rain in the forecast for Monday morning and a winter storm warning in effect until 6:00 CT. The freezing rain is forecast to taper off right around post time for the first race on the card, which is at 1:05 CT.

A dozen were entered to run in the Southwest but trainer Tom Amoss said that War Story would scratch and will likely run at Fair Grounds next week in the $400,000 Risen Star (G2).

The D. Wayne Lukas trained Mr. Z is 7-2 on the morning line. The colt has won just once in nine career starts but has landed in the money in six stakes and has amassed $514,726 in career earnings.

His last start came in the Smarty Jones where he pressed the early pace and looked like the winner in the stretch but veered out and had to settle for third behind the late closing Far Right and Bayerd.

Far Right is the 3-1 morning line favorite off his Smarty Jones win. The colt was third in the Delta jackpot (G3) in his previous start, checking in behind Ocho Ocho Ocho and Mr. Z.

The Southwest offers 10-4-2-1 Derby points to the top four finishers. The race is a prep for the $750,000 Rebel (G2) on March 14 and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 11.

With nasty weather in Hot Springs and frigid temperatures in New York which puts the Aqueduct card in jeopardy again, my Best Plays for Monday will include my strongest plays from warmer climates. We will look at the Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita cards.

Let’s head out to Hot Springs for Monday’s featured race of the day:


Oaklawn Park Race 9 The Southwest G3 Post time 5:09 CT

1 J S Bach   4-1

9 Bold Conquest   12-1

2 Far Right   3-1

10 Mr. Z   7-2

J S Bach took the field gate to wire and drew off late to break his maiden in a good-looking outing in his second career start and first around two turns. The colt earned an even higher Beyer two back in a runner up finish going 5 ½ furlongs in his debut, a race in which two others also exited to win next out.

The colt may not be quick enough to grab the lead here but should get a good tracking trip sitting not too far off the pace and that is where you want to be here at this distance. John Velazquez is in to ride this guy who is out of an unraced Pulpit mare that has dropped two other winners, top earner Harborplace ($137,403).

Bold Conquest makes his first start off a four month break here for the Steve Asmussen barn that is 19% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. The colt graduated at the Spa last summer and then missed winning the Iroquois (G3) in his stakes debut by a neck to Lucky Player He then was no match for Carpe Diem and Mr. Z in the Breeders Futurity where he checked in third.

The colt has come back with a couple of bullet drills at Fair Grounds and has one local work on the morning tab. Worth tossing in the mix here if he goes off near his 12-1 morning line.

Far Right made a strong late run after having to idle briefly in behind foes to win the Smarty Jones last out, defeating three foes he faces again today. The late running colt should get an honest pace to run at here, but at this distance, it is better to be closer to the front. He is going to be rolling late, but may end up a light price.


WIN: J S Bach to win at 3-1 or better.

EXACTA: 1,9 / 1,2,9,10

TRIFECTA: 1,9 / 1,2,9,10 / 1,2,4,9,10


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