HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Suddenbreakingnews closed from last for a 2-3/4-length win over Whitmore in the Grade 3, $500,000 Southwest Stakes in his 3-year-old debut Monday at Oakawn Park. It was another half-length back to American Dubai in third.
Collected, the favorite, finished fourth in the field of 14.
Suddenbreakingnews ($10.20) earned 10 eligibility points for the Kentucky Derby, while Whitmore, American Dubai, and Collected earned points on a sliding scale of 4-2-1. The Southwest was the final race at the 17-point level, with the Risen Star on Saturday at Fair Grounds to kick off a series of 3-year-old races worth 50 points to the winner on the road to the Kentucky Derby.
Suddenbreakingnews, who was coupled with Synchrony in the wagering, trailed early after starting from post 13 in the 1-1/16-mile Southwest as Siding Spring took the field through fractions of 23.10 seconds for the opening quarter, 47.60 for the half-mile, and 1:12.30 for six furlongs. Suddenbreakingnews began to pick off horses on the final turn and swept past his remaining rivals through the stretch to cover the distance on a track rated "good" in 1:45.14.
"We stayed behind everyone, which helped my horse relax, and it kept us out of trouble," said winning rider Luis Quinonez. "I could see ahead of us that there were some horses that were getting in trouble. When he started making a move, I tried inside, but there was nothing there. I moved him outside, and with his long stride, he started picking it up quick. I told myself down the lane, 'We got this.'"
Trainer Donnie Von Hemel was pleased with how Quinonez negotiated the large field with Suddenbreakingnews.
"There were concerns about this being his first start [of the year] and the post position," Von Hemel said. "Luis knew he had to drop back to save ground, and it just turned out he was trailing the field. That's the good thing about Luis. Even when you have a plan that doesn't work out, he has the experience to still get it done. I could tell at the eighth pole that he was going to get there."
Suddenbreakingnews was making his first start since finishing second by a nose to Discreetness in the $250,000 Springboard Mile on Dec. 13 at Remington Park. Following that race, Discreetness won the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn.
Von Hemel said Suddenbreakingnews will now be pointed for the Grade 2, $900,000 Rebel Stakes on March 19 at Oaklawn.
Suddenbreakingnews races for Samuel F. Henderson, a resident of Texas. The horse earned $300,000 for his win in the Southwest, which had its purse boosted by $200,000 this year. Suddenbreakingnews has won three of six starts and $443,032. He won his first stakes race in the Clever Trevor last November at Remington Park. Suddenbreakingnews is a son of Mineshaft and was bred in Kentucky by Branch Equine.
Oaklawn handled a meet-high $5,111,552 on its 10-race card from all sources Monday. The estimated attendance was 22,500.