All Systems On Go For Asmusssen Duo in the Southwest Stakes

December 10, 2019

Familiarity with his surroundings can only help a young horse, especially one following the Triple Crown trail, so trainer Steve Asmussen decided to leave Bayerd at Oaklawn Park following his second place finish in the Smarty Jones Stakes last month. Now, he hopes that decision will pay dividends when the 3-year-old colt contests Monday's saltier $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3). Asmussen won the race last year with Tapiture.

"He's doing great,” said Asmussen of Bayerd, who has been in the capable hands of assistant Darren Fleming. “He stayed at Oaklawn and he's trained well coming up to the race. We expect a good effort from him on Monday."

Clark Brewster's Bayerd was a two-time stakes winner as a 2-year-old, adding the six-furlong Kip Deville and the Springboard Mile at Remington Park to his resume. After contesting the $150,000 Smarty Jones at one mile and being no match for winner Far Right, he'll be asked to stretch out to 1 1/16 miles.

Asmussen is unconcerned that Bayerd, a son of 2004 champion Sprinter Speightstown and a maternal grandson of 1994 champion Sprinter Cherokee Run, may not possess the pedigree to relish the longer going in Oaklawn's second of three major prep races for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 11. Nonetheless, he said that at this time of year it is essential for the 3-year-olds to demonstrate that they belong with the contenders rather than the pretenders, especially with Kentucky Derby qualifying points (10-4-2-1 for first through fourth place) up for grabs in the Southwest.

"They've got to keep getting better, going longer, and they have to keep moving forward," he said. "There's no doubt about it."

Asmussen thinks Bayerd is ready for a return match with Far Right and is up to the challenge of the rest of the field, which includes stablemate Bold Conquest, who is making his first start since finishing third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland last October.

"You prepare for who you have in the race and I like where we're running," Asmussen said.

Bold Conquest worked a half-mile in :50.60 Thursday morning at Oaklawn in advance of Monday’s race. The Curlin colt worked from the half-mile pole to the wire about 20 minutes after the track opened. He covered his final quarter-mile in :24.60 under the supervision of Fleming.

Jockey Ramon Vazquez gets the return call on Bayered and two-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. is scheduled to ride Bold Conquest in the Southwest.

Also expected to be entered Friday morning are Mr. Z, Majestico, War Story, Far Right, Private Prospect, Kantune, The Truth Or Else and J S Bach.

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