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Southwest Stake: Arabian Knight Became a Hot Kentucky Derby Prospect

Written by: Brian Zipse
Updated January 27, 2023
15 min read

Southwest Stakes Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park!










D Cabrera

K McPeek





F Prat

B Cox





J Talamo

B Cox





C Torres

D W Lukas





F Arrieta

K McPeek





J Velazquez

B Baffert





R Santana Jr

S Asmussen





M Franco

B Cox





O Mojica

M Silva

*Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.

Southwest Stakes Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($60 in total)

$10 Exacta Box - Corona Bolt, Arabian Knight and Hit Show = $60

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Corona Bolt (4/1).    



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Southwest Stakes Predictions

Following a much-talked-about debut performance, Arabian Knight became a hot Kentucky Derby prospect. We will learn more when he makes his second career start as the favorite in Saturday’s Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Trained by Bob Baffert, the son of Uncle Mo was a $2.3 million purchase as a 2-year-old in training and was bet down to 7/10 in his career debut at Keeneland last November. 

Living up to the hype, Arabian Knight ran away from his competition, winning by 7 1/4-lengths in fast time The Southwest will be his first start around two turns after the 7-furlong beginning to his career.

Chief opposition to the favorite in Saturday's 8 1/2-furlong test will be a Brad Cox-trained trio, including stakes winners Corona Bolt and Jace’s Road.

Corona Bolt is undefeated in two career starts. A son of Bolt d’Oro, he broke his maiden at Churchill Downs, before romping home a big winner of the 6-furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds. 

Jace’s Road, meanwhile, also broke his maiden at first asking, but needed three tries before winning his first stakes victory. That came last out when he easily scored in the Gun Runner Stakes at Fair Grounds.

As a Kentucky Derby trail race, the $750,000 Southwest will offer qualifying points on a scale of 20-8-6-4-2 to the top five finishers.

Southwest Stakes Predictions and Race Analysis

Arabian Knight

This is probably the most hyped young horse in the nation. Purchased for big bucks last spring, he has continued to impress his trainer Bob Baffert, who has been around more good 3-year-olds in the last three decades than anyone. 

He only made one start at 2, but the way that he dominated his competition in that Keeneland maiden race furthers the belief that he might be a good one. Off only that sprint nearly three months ago, he faces a solid field here, so he should be tested. 

The son of Uncle Mo truly could be any kind, but at low odds, I think it is worth the chance to take a small shot to beat him.

Corona Bolt

Just like the one above him, it’s really hard to know how good this one can become. His debut win at Churchill Downs was promising, but the son of Bolt d’Oro took things to an impressive other level last time in romping home in the Sugar Bowl. 

Both of those came while sprinting, so he will need to prove that he can handle two turns as he steps up in class. I do like his pedigree for the task, and the fact that he passed horses in his debut win. He looks like a very talented horse who should be able to get 8 1/2-furlongs.

I think he has a ton of upside for trainer Brad Cox, and considering the odds difference between him and Arabian Knight, I have to make him the top pick.

Jace’s Road

Another who likes to do his running on or near the early lead, this stakes winning son of Quality Road does have experience over the two above him. He already has two impressive victories, and if you can excuse the sloppy track performance, he has done little wrong in the other three starts.

It will be interesting to see if he tries to go with the early speed of Arabian Knight and Corona Bolt, because if he does, I feel like he will have a hard time sticking around. If, however, he can relax a bit early, he might sit a good stalking trip. 

His win last time in the Gun Runner shows that he is still improving. He is certainly a threat here, but of the speed horses, I am leaning to the others.



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Hit Show

The last of the Brad Cox-trained trio, this one has won 2-of-3 to begin his career. A strong first-out winner at Keeneland, the son of Candy Ride was a bit of a disappointment next out when stretched out to two turns, finishing fourth in a Churchill Downs allowance race. 

He rebounded nicely, though last month with another good-looking rally, this time to win an Oaklawn Park allowance race. He needs to prove himself against stakes horses, but his two wins are promising enough to believe he can make the jump. 

Unlike his stablemates, he likes to come from behind, which should benefit him as some of the favorites are tiring late. He is my top longshot.

Red Route One

Trained by Steve Asmussen, this late-running son of Gun Runner has one win in five starts. It came in an impressive maiden victory on the grass at Kentucky Downs, so he has yet to win on the dirt. 

Although, each of his three tries on the main track came in graded stakes, where he has a third, a fourth, and a fifth. His slop effort was not as good, but both tries on fast tracks were quite solid, including a fourth, beaten only 1 1/2-lengths, last time in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. 

With an expected solid pace here, he does look like a horse who could come and pick up the pieces to sneak into the exotics.

Sun Thunder

The first of two from trainer Kenny McPeek, this lightly raced colt could be a beneficiary if the pace is strong early. He’s only run twice but has shown nice promise. 

First, he rallied to finish third in a maiden race at Churchill Downs, before coming to Oaklawn Park last time for an eye-catching win. That came in a one-mile maiden race and he won going away by more than six lengths. 

This will obviously be a serious step up in class, but with the three favorites all having speed, as well as his own entry mate, this race could set up very well for his late run. He is a longshot to consider.

Frosted Departure

One of two colts in the race who have already started nine times, this son of Frosted has earned all of his three wins while sprinting. The best of the bunch came last out when he scored a hard-fought victory in the 6-furlong Renaissance at Oaklawn Park. 

Unfortunately, the Kenny McPeek-trained runner faded out of contention badly in both previous tries while running two turns. He does have the speed to make his presence felt early in the going, but as far as sticking around late, I do not like his chances.

Western Ghent

Only once a winner in nine-lifetime starts, this American Pharoah colt hails from the Hall of Fame barn of D. Wayne Lukas. Bred to be a good one, he just hasn’t shown enough on the track yet to strongly consider him in a race like this. 

His only victory came in a maiden claiming race and he hasn’t been really close in four stakes tries. The only positive is that his last try was his best yet and it came at Oaklawn Park when he finished fourth in the Smarty Jones at odds of 56/1. He’s not for me here.

El Tomate

A son of Runhappy, this colt has only run once, but it was a nice victory going seven furlongs at Remington Park last month. Clearly, this represents a big jump up in class for the Miguel Silva-trained gray. 

He will also be moving to a two-turn distance on Saturday, which only adds to the level of difficulty. He appears to have some talent, but I am willing to bet that this will be a little too much too soon for him.



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How to Watch the Southwest Stakes

Southwest Stakes Race Information

  • What: Southwest Stakes (Grade 3)

  • Location: Oaklawn Park

  • Time: Saturday, January 28 -- 5:57 pm Eastern time

  • How to Watch: FanDuel TV

  • Purse: $750,000

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Image for Brian Zipse


Brian Zipse

293 Articles

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]

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