Through the early Kentucky Derby prep season, the top two tracks in terms of producing viable Derby favorites are Gulfstream and Oaklawn.
Oaklawn has become a top destination for make a run towards the Derby and this year is no exception, with the latest prep coming Monday with the running of the Southwest.
At the forefront of the field would have to be Bob Baffert’s Mourinho. The winner of two of his four career starts, Mourinho (2-1) is coming off a front running win in the Smarty Jones over the Oaklawn track. It was a convincing win, one where the horse looked to have plenty left in the tank. Drayden Van Dyke, who rode the horse in the Smarty Jones, makes the trip back out from Southern California for the race.
Sporting Chance (9-2), out of the D Wayne Lukas barn is another talented runner. The winner of two straight, the horse last ran in September, taking the Hopeful at Saratoga. A series of strong work outs shows me the horse is ready to run. Luis Saez – who has been up for the two wins – is back up on the horse Monday.
Combatant (6-1) was second in the Smarty Jones for trainer Steve Asmussen. The race was the second straight, second-place finish for Combatant, with a second in the Springboard Mile at Remington preceding the Smarty Jones. Ricardo Santana is up on the horse for the fourth straight race.
Seven Trumpets (10-1) may be an interesting runner here as well. The Dale Romans runner was second in the Jerome at Aqueduct in his last start but has escaped New York and it will be interesting to see how he fares here. Robby Albarado takes the call for Romans.