Warrendale Sales Graduates Hit Exata In the Southwest Stakes
RSS Feeds Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Ed and Susie Orr's Silver Prospector made significant strides towards a spot in the millionaire earners club Feb. 17 with a score in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park

It was slow start for Silver Prospector and Ricardo Santana Jr., who found themselves just shy of the back of the field at the break. Wells Bayou and Florent Geroux looked strong from the start and established a comfortable one-length lead. Villainous tracked the pace in second followed by Answer In in third. 

Despite their sluggish beginning, Santana and Silver Prospector made up lost ground with strong strides along the backstretch. The pair rated just off the pace in sixth as the quarter-mile went in :22.89 and were up for third by a head over Answer In when the field hit the half-mile in :46.60.   

Still on an uncontested lead as they entered the far turn, Wells Bayou continued to look strong and showed the way into the lane. Answer In moved three wide off the turn and angled in, poking his head in front of Silver Prospector in an attempt to regain his third-place position. The effort was too little too late for Answer In as Silver Prospector drove home in the two path then passed Answer In before edging Wells Bayou for the lead in deep stretch. 

Wells Bayou worked to hold off his rival but did not have enough to hold onto command. Silver Prospector drifted out slightly but was patiently handled and straightened by Santana. The Steve Asmussen trainee and his jockey kicked clear in the final furlongs to win by length. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile dirt test was 1:43.01. 

"The last two weeks the horse was training unbelievable! We didn't get any rain so the track was just how he liked it," Sanatana said. "He pulled me in a great spot the first quarter, and I just became his passenger."

Wells Bayou held for second followed by Answer In 5 1/2 lengths back in third.

"I was proud of both horses," said Brad Cox, who conditions both Wells Bayou and Answer In. "They ran extremely well. Obviously, set some nice hot fractions, or some hot fractions, and was able continue with a nice run down the lane. I was very pleased with them both. We'll regroup with them and see what's next."

“I went a touch quicker than what I wanted to," said Geroux of Wells Bayou. "My horse ran hard even when the other one came by me, he was trying really hard. It was a great race. It was his first time against stakes company and the winner was a grade 2 winner.”

Graded stakes-placed winner Shoplifted took fourth, earning him one qualifying point toward the Kentucky Derby. Also trained by Asmussen, Shoplifted is now 13th on the Derby leaderboard. 

Taishan, Villainous, American ButterflyChase Tracker, and Gold Street completed the order of finish. 

The Southwest, a Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) prep race, awarded 10 points towards a berth in the first of the American classics to Silver Prospector, who is now sixth on the leaderboard.

A son of Declaration of War, Silver Prospector had banked 11 qualifying points coming into Monday's race with a victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs at 2, followed by a fourth-place finish during his sophomore debut in the Jan. 24 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn. 

"His position was by design. I thought he got a little too far behind in the Smarty Jones," Asmussen said. "He was in good position all the way. We'll look at the Rebel Stakes (March 14) and Arkansas Derby (April 11). This series is quite lucrative and the points are very important."

The victory also marked the third Southwest score for Asmussen. The Hall of Fame trainer took the 2014 renewal with Tapiture and the 2002 edition with Private Emblem. 

"I think we were pretty reserved today," said owner Ed Orr, who echoed Asmussen's earlier sentiments regarding the Smarty Jones finish. "We had a lot of information that he was doing good. We were disappointed in the fourth-place finish in the Smarty Jones and thought that we could have done better there. We've learned a long time ago in this business to not get your hopes too high because they can be shot down pretty fast."

Bred in Kentucky by Hargus Sexton, Sandra Sexton, and Silver Fern Farm, Silver Prospector is the fifth foal out of the Tapit mare Tap Softly. Consigned by Eisaman Equine to the 2019 Ocala Breeders' Sale April Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, he was purchased by the Orrs for $190,000. 

Silver Prospector improved his record to 3-0-2 from seven starts with $713,051 in earnings. 

- Courtesy of the BloodHorse

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