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Kentucky Derby Road: Eleven Set For Southwest On Presidents Day Holiday

 

Favored Smarty Jones Winner Gray Attempt Draws Rail

By LATT Staff
(edited press releases)

Gray Attempt wins the 2018 Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds. Photo: Hodges Photography

Dwight Pruett’s Gray Attempt drew the rail Friday morning for the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds, part of a stakes tripleheader Monday at Oaklawn.

The 1 1/16-mile Southwest is Oaklawn’s second of four major preps for the Kentucky Derby and offers 17 points (10-4-2-1) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Run for the Roses. Trained by Jinks Fires of Hot Springs, Gray Attempt has won his last three starts, including the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 25 at Oaklawn.

After Gray Attempt became tougher to handle in the morning following his victory in the $125,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 25 at Oaklawn, trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs turned to an old friend for help.

Enter trainer John Henry Prather, 66, who has regularly galloped Gray Attempt the last few weeks in preparation for Monday’s $500,000 SouthwestStakes (G3) for 3-year-olds.

Fires, 78, said he’s been friends with Prather since the early 1970s when both worked as exercise riders for the late Doug Davis, Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1969, 1970 and 1975. Chel-c Bailey had been Gray Attempt’s regular exercise rider and worked the colt before his 3-year-old debut in the Smarty Jones, Oaklawn’s first of four major preps for the Kentucky Derby.

Gray Attempt gallops at Oaklawn Park under rider John Prather. Photo: Oaklawn Park

“He was starting to get really tough,” said Fires, who has used Prather as an exercise rider in the past. “John, he’s an old hand. We were just trying to get him relaxed. Chel-c has done a great job on him so far. I was just trying to get him relaxed, and John has a tendency to be able to do that. He’s been a gallop boy for a lot of years. That’s what older guys with good hands do.”

Fires normally takes Gray Attempt to the track after the break to renovate the racing surface, when there is less traffic. Gray Attempt was a front-running winner of the Smarty Jones – his first start around two turns – and will try to carry his speed 1 1/16 miles in the Southwest.

“He’s a very a good horse,” Prather said. “Since I’ve been getting on him, he’s settled down quite a bit.”

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen entered five horses – Bankit, Boldor, Jersey Agenda, Long Range Toddy and Ninth Street – with Cutting Humor, Olympic Runner, Six Shooter, Sueno and Super Steed completing the projected 11-horse field.

Long Range Toddy (second), Boldor (third), Six Shooter (fourth), Bankit (sixth) and Super Steed (seventh) also ran in the 1-mile Smarty Jones.

Probable post time for the Southwest, the ninth of 10 races, is 5:09 p.m. (Central).

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