Southwest to be run in divisions
Updated: February 18, 2012, 10:04 PM ETBloodhorse
With 21 3-year-old entrants for the Southwest Stakes Jan. 20, Oaklawn Park has split the race into two divisions worth $250,000 apiece. Oaklawn's rich 3-year-old program has helped produced five champions, two Kentucky Derby winners, four Preakness Stakes winners and two Belmont Stakes winners since 2004. Splitting the Southwest will allow twice as many horses to earn graded earnings, a determining factor in making the field for the Kentucky Derby. The two divisions will be run as races eight and nine on the 10-race card. The Southwest has been split two other times, the last being 2002 when the race was still ungraded. The last graded Kentucky Derby prep to be split was the 1993 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. The first division, race eight, will feature Smarty Jones Stakes winner Junebugred and runner-up Reckless Jerry taking on California shippers Longview Drive and Castaway as well as three other rivals from the Smarty Jones -- Jake Mo, Laurie's Rocket, and No Spin. The likely favorite for the second division, race nine, is Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint winnerSecret Circle, who will be making his second start of the year after finishing second in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. Also in the field is juvenile stakes winner Adirondack King, who marks the return to Oaklawn by Smarty Jones' trainer John Servis and jockey Stewart Elliott, as well as impressive Oaklawn allowance winners Cyber Secret and Pee H Dee. "This is very gratifying," said Charles Cella, Oaklawn's president. "It's a wonderful thing to have so many good three-year-olds supporting our program. This was exactly our goal when we raised the Arkansas Derby to $1 million."
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