Silver Prospector, with Ricardo Santana Jr. riding, wins Monday's Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, earning 10 points toward a potential start in the Kentucky Derby. Photo courtesy of Oaklawn Park
Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Silver Prospector ran by pacesetting Wells Bayou in the stretch drive of Monday's $750,000 Grade III Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, winning by 1 length and earning 10 points toward a Kentucky Derby start.
The 1 1/16-mile race drew nine 3-year-olds to Hot Springs, Ark., but did little to resolve the still-unsettled Derby picture. None of the Southwest participants is in the top rank -- at least yet -- for the first Saturday in May.
Still, Silver Prospector, a Declaration of War colt trained by Steve Asmussen, looked the part in the Southwest. After starting well off the pace, jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. urged his mount into contention on the stretch turn, hit the front a furlong out and edged clear.
Wells Bayou held second. In a mark of the uncertainty surrounding this year's 3-year-olds, the favorite, Answer In, had no answer when asked in the stretch and finished third, 5 1/2 lengths farther back.
"The last two weeks the horse was training unbelievable," Santana said of Silver Prospector. "We didn't get any rain so the track was just how he liked it. He pulled me in a great spot the first quarter, and I just became his passenger."
Silver Prospector posted his third career win, finishing in a quite respectable 1:43.01 over a fast track. The earlier victories include the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last November.
Asmussen said Silver Prospector is likely to stay at Oaklawn for the $1 million Grade II Rebel on March 14 and the $1 million Grade I Arkansas Derby on April 11.
"Absolutely, we'll look at the Rebel and Arkansas Derby," the conditioner said. "This series is quite lucrative and the points are very important."
Silver Prospector is sixth on the points list for the Run for the Roses, which has a maximum field of 20. His standing will drop sharply in the next few weeks, however, as others accumulate points while he waits in the barn. The Rebel offers 50 points to the winner; the Arkansas Derby, 100.
Also on Presidents' Day at the Arkansas spa city:
Warrior's Charge charged to the lead right out of the gate in the $500,000 Razorback Handicap, hooked up in a stretch duel with Bankit and prevailed by a head over that rival Snapper Sinclair was third, a further 4 1/2 lengths in arrears as Warrior's Charge, a 4-year-old Munnings colt, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.00 with Florent Geroux up.
Warrior's Charge was fourth in last year's Preakness Stakes, his only previous graded-stakes effort for trainer Brad Cox.
And in the $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes for fillies and mares, Go Google Yourself chased down the favorite, Whoa Nellie, in the closing strides to win by a neck. Cairenn was third. Go Google Yourself, a 5-year-old Into Mischief mare, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.65.