A solid field of a dozen 3-year-olds, including the top three from last month's Smarty Jones Stakes, has been entered in Monday's $300,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
The 1 1/16-mile Southwest is a local prep race for the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 11 and offers 10 points toward a spot in the 141st Kentucky Derby on May 2.
Smarty Jones winner Far Right has drawn post 2 in the 12-horse field and will again have Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the saddle.
Trained by Ron Moquett, Far Right rallied along the inside to win the Smarty Jones by 1 3/4 lengths over Bayerd and 11-10 favorite Mr. Z.
"There was some room down on the rail," Smith noted after the win. "I really won with something left. I definitely think he'll go on an extra sixteenth to an eighth of a mile, maybe even a mile and a quarter."
Far Right, owned by Robert LaPenta and Harry Rosenblum, was second his first two times out last year and found the winner's circle last September at Churchill Downs. He followed with a fourth in Belmont Park's Futurity on Oct. 5 and three weeks later was third in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill. Far Right was third in the Delta Downs Jackpot on Nov. 22 behind Ocho Ocho Ocho with Mr. Z second.
The chestnut colt has two wins, two seconds and two thirds in seven starts for $245,766.
"He (Bayerd) stayed at Oaklawn and he's trained well coming up to the race. We expect a good effort from him on Monday," said Asmussen. "They've got to keep getting better, going longer, and they have to keep moving forward. There's no doubt about it."
After finishing third in his debut start last July, Bayerd won consecutive races, including the Kip Deville at Remington Park. He was second in the track's Clever Trevor Stakes and finished the year by winning Remington's Springboard Mile. The colt has earned $312,100 with three wins from six starts.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will saddle Mr. Z who is owned by Zayat Stables. The chestnut colt will be ridden for the first time by Corey Nakatani and leave from post 10. Jon Court had the mount when Mr. Z finished third in the Smarty Jones.
"If Jon would have not hit him, I think, and just hand rode him, he might have won by five or six (lengths)," Lukas said. "He knifed him left-handed. He won't take that."
Mr. Z hasn't won since his first start last June at Churchill Downs. However, he has four seconds and a third in eight career starts for $514,726.
Here is the field for the Southwest from the rail out: J S Bach, John Velazquez; Far Right, Mike Smith; Private Prospect, Alex Birzer; Bayerd, Ramon Vazquez; The Truth Or Else, Calvin Borel; Kantune, Shaun Bridgmohan; Phenomenal Phoenix, Cliff Berry; Majestico, Terry Thompson; Bold Conquest, Ricardo Santana Jr.; Mr. Z, Corey Nakatani; War Story, Joe Talamo and Bold Animaux, Israel Ocampo.
Post time will be approximately 6:09 p.m. ET.
Following the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn for 3-year-olds will be the $750,000 Rebel Stakes on March 14.