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Southwest runners exit races well
The plane that brought the winners of both divisions of Monday's Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn returned to California Wednesday, though their trainer Bob Baffert has already vowed -- Gen. MacArthur-like -- "I shall return."
Castaway and Secret Circle strode back aboard the Tex Sutton charter two days after their front-running scores in the split one-mile heats. With them was Longview Drive, who finished in a disappointing tie for sixth in the first division behind Castaway for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Division 1 favorite Unbridled's Note will remain at trainer Steve Asmussen's Oaklawn branch office after failing to fire in what was his second career race.
Division 1 runner-up Jake Mo was doing well in the barn of leading trainer Allen Milligan with a potential run in next month's Grade 2, $500,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) "on the table," according to his handlers. Division 2 runner-up Scatman was "bright, bug-eyed and hopping" shortly after pushing Secret Circle to a quick finishing time according to trainer Michael Lauer's assistant Kim Baronowski.
Adirondack King is remaining at Oaklawn for trainer John Servis and was sticking with his routine Wednesday after his third-place finish in the second division. Reckless Jerry seemed to have "very little taken out of him" according to trainer Kenny Smith after his slightly troubled third-place finish in the first division. Indications are both horses will appear next in the Rebel, though Smith may choose to wait until the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 14 instead.
Smarty Jones Stakes winner Junebugred emerged from his letdown in the first division in relatively good fashion according to trainer Steve Hobby.
"It looks like it was a whole combination of things that got us," Hobby said. "The main thing is he picked up a lot of weight to carry off that win, and he's not that big a horse. Then he sat back a bit farther off the slower pace and that didn't help. We'll regroup, see how he goes the next few weeks and decide where we go."
Other notes out of the Southwest include the decision by trainer Tim Ice to give one more dirt test for No Spin after finishing in the three-way dead heat for sixth in the first version. The colt will head to New Mexico for the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby on March 25. He is co-owned by Dr. Leonard Blach, one of the partners with 2009 Kentucky Derby upsetter Mine That Bird, who famously put the race outside El Paso, Texas, on the Derby Trail map.
Apprehender, who never settled while chasing the pace of the second division before fading to ninth, had a mild bout of colic after what was his second career race. Trainer Ingrid Mason said the gelding will aim for easier sprint races for the time being.