After suffering his first defeat in last year's Breeder's Cup Juvenile, JACKIE'S WARRIOR will get the chance to turn the tables on those who beat him, and reestablish prominence among the best three-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail.
He's set to face ESSENTIAL QUALITY, the Brad Cox trainee, who is currently the second favorite in the Kentucky Derby betting. And KEEPMEINMIND, the Robertino Diodoro trainee who won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last time out.
Both horses beat JACKIE'S WARRIOR when they met in the BC Juvenile with ESSENTIAL QUALITY finishing first, KEEPMEINMIND finishing third, and JACKIE'S WARRIOR fourth.
The field is still taking shape. One other has been listed as probable, LAST SAMURAI, for the Dallas Stewart barn.
The Southwest Stakes is Grade 3 event run at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. The purse is $750K. The winner earns 10 points for his Road to the KY Derby.
This has long been an important race for Derby hopefuls looking to develop their routing abilities and overall form. We saw MY BOY JACK use this spot as a prep for the 2018 Kentucky Derby, in which he was the betting favorite.
JACKIE'S WARRIOR has been forgotten or written off by many horse players and fans. They say he is distance challenged, he won't make the Derby, he's better off sprinting, and he can't get two turns. These attitudes may be responsible for JACKIE'S WARRIOR's 23-1 KY Derby odds. Yet he's only lost once in five starts; has won a pair of Grade 1 races, plus a Grade 2. He's beaten horses last year who have come back stronger this year, for their own KY Derby Campaign: MIDNIGHT BOURBON and MUTASAABEQ.
A win at this spot could silence the critics, but until that happens, the obvious question remains: can JACKIE'S WARRIOR stretch out and be just as dominant as he showed us last year?
He'll need to in order to win here and have any chance at sweeping the Triple Crown.
JACKIE'S WARRIOR's stride doesn't scream ten furlong horse. But it doesn't strike you as obvious sprinter either. In the BC Juvenile you can see him relax into a deep stride along the backstretch, as he was tracking a rather quick pace which arguably led to his off the board finish.
Does his pedigree grab you as Triple Crown-destined? Perhaps heck no. But there is some lineage that hints at Triple Crown competitiveness if you look into it. He is by MACLEAN'S MUSIC, with A.P. INDY blood along the damside. This combination produced 2017 Preakness Stakes winner CLOUD COMPUTING.
It will be interesting to see what jockey Joel Rosario chooses to do— get JACKIE's WARRIOR to rate, or, go gate to wire with the risk of being a target and being pressed early.
The 1 1/16 mile Grade 3 event is scheduled to run on February 15th, 2021 at Oaklawn Park.
JACKIE'S "revenge" — will it be served or soured? Tune it to find out. Oaklawn Park will award ten Kentucky Derby points to the winner, four points to the second horse, two points to the third, and one point for fourth.