Small field but some serious quality in the Southwest Stakes. Due to the timing of the race (with 2 weather delays), next step is likely Arkansas Derby. There are three early speed horses (E) in race but don't expect the pace to be very quick. Best horse should win in what looks like a chalky affair.
1. Essential Quality - Deserves to be favored off BC Juvenile win. Gets the K+ rating. VALUE inflated a bit by the $2M purse he won in last race. Undefeated and won last with farther back running style due to very hot pace. Should be close up today in the second flight saving ground. Cox/Saez are flat bet profitable. This horse seems to be a lock for the Exacta.
2. Saffa's Day - This horse badly beaten in Springboard Mile. Broke maiden in last by a nose in all-out drive. Not eligible to improve today in the form cycle and is way too slow (ENERGY).
3. Last Samurai - This horse is the slowest in the race and has no shot. Jock/Trainer are profitable together so when they win it's a value bet but don't see it in this race.
4. Jackie's Warrior - This horse was brilliant in first four starts and won Champagne. Went off as favorite in BC Juvenile but didn't get the lead early in race with very hot pace. Gained lead top of stretch after long battle and then tired to finish 4th. I have money on this horse to win the Derby at 26-1. Horse has a steady pattern of 5F work-outs and should have no trouble getting the lead today.
5. Santa Cruiser - I thought this horse would go to lead in Risen Star. Perhaps he's just not fast enough. Two very disappointing efforts in Fair Grounds against horses that would be not be favored against the top 2 horses today.
6. Woodhouse - Broke maiden in a weak race. Improved second start in the mud at Oaklawn. Could improve again today and has a good running style. Pedigree is sprint oriented and didn't fetch any money at the sale as a son of Speightstown. Trout/Cabrera are very good together. This horse is a threat to take 3rd.
7. Spielburg - Baffert is gold when shipping horses to Oaklawn and is profitable with Garcia. Horse has been a disappointing $1M yearling purchase but has been competing against top class competition. Another threat for 3rd but no value in Trifecta.
Bottom Line - The #1 or #4 are miles better than rest of field on ENERGY although #1 is the safer option in the Exacta. They likely run 1-2 and my bet will be on the #4 assuming he goes off at M/L odds or higher. You could also bet an exacta one way (1-4 or 4-1) but can't box them and make any money. You could also key them 1-2 in the trifecta with the #6 in 3rd for a decent return (1,4 w 1,4 w 6). Not a race to make any money unfortunately but a good one to watch.