Two out of three isn’t bad, right? It is when you don’t have the winner. The Grade III Southwest Stakes lived up to its billing as a wide open race and a family celebration for the winning connections of Archarcharch as the dark bay colt cruised to a one length victory over favored JP’s Gusto.
Ridden by regular Ellis Park jockey Jon Court, Archarcharch scored a big win on the derby trail for his father-in-law, trainer William Fires (Race Replay). It was the first graded stakes win for Archarcharch and his next test may be only a few weeks away in the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 19.
Archarcharch sat off the pace for the majority of the two turn mile contest. JP’s Gusto, a champion sprinter at 2, defied my logic and did the same. Opening fractions were 22.6 for the first quarter mile and 46.8 for the first half. Along the backstretch, Archarcharch passed JP’s Gusto and moved toward the front of the pack. As they entered the stretch, a wall of horses stretched out across the track. Second choice Elite Alex was six wide and battled on the outside to make a dent in the final results. Archarcharch took command over leaders Derivative and Brickyard Fast and never looked back. JP’s Gusto had a troublesome race, but never seemed to fire until the final stretch finishing second. Elite Alex was third. Archarcharch won in a time of 1:38.2 and pocketed $150,000 for owner Robert Yagos.
- Archarcharch $31.00 $8.80 $4.80
- JP’s Gusto $3.60 $2.80
- Elite Alex $3.00
Caleb’s Posse, my pick to win on the morning line, broke sharply from the gate and settled in behind horses along the rail. Jockey Eddie Razo, Jr. put in a strong surge along the backstretch and looked to be making a big move as he guided the horse around the second turn. However, the wall of horses prevented him from finding a hole for Caleb’s Posse and was never a factor in the final outcome finishing 6th.
We would like to congratulate the winning connections of the Southwest Stakes and one of our local favorites Jon Court. We hope that all of the horses returned to their respective stables in good health and we hope to see them competing in future races.
Written by Big Brink