Combatant could get revenge on Mourinho in Southwest Stakes

The Grade III, $500,000 Southwest Stakes for three-year-olds will highlight the action on President’s Day at Oaklawn Park. A field of 11 has been entered for the 1 1/16th-mile heat worth 10 Kentucky Derby points to the winner. The Southwest goes as Race 9 on a 10-race program, with post time scheduled for 6:10 p.m. EST. Don’t forget to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#4 MOURINHO is a deserving 2-1 favorite off his romp in the Smarty Jones Stakes last month, but he could be vulnerable today. He controlled a slow pace under Drayden Van Dyke in his last start over just four rivals. By contrast, he’ll face 10 foes today and could be pressured by #2 SPORTING CHANCE and #11 EZMOSH, among others. MOURINHO has shown some distance limitations in earlier starts as well, and will be asked to carry seven additional pounds. It remains to be seen how he’ll react to such demanding circumstances.

#10 COMBATANT (6-1), second behind MOURINHO in the Smarty Jones, is the most logical upset candidate based on running style. He typically lays a few lengths off the pace before making his move in the lane. Assuming he gets a pace duel to work with, he should be the first to roll by the tiring leaders. Ricardo Santana Jr. maintains the assignment.

#6 SEVEN TRUMPETS (10-1) nearly wired Aqueduct’s Jerome Stakes over a muddy track when last seen. The quality of that field was suspect, but SEVEN TRUMPETS has the right to improve in the Southwest. He should get a fast track on Monday, on which he’s won his last two starts. He’ll also reunite with Robby Albarado, who guided him to both of those victories. Expect a return to off-the-pace tactics and an in-the-money result.

SPORTING CHANCE (9-2) hinted at serious talent at age two but hasn’t run since he won September’s Hopeful Stakes. His greenness (lugged in) nearly cost him that win, and now he’ll be asked to go an extra 3/16ths. D. Wayne Lukas has this one training well and Luis Saez sees fit to ship in, but he faces a tall order off the bench; underneath only.

The play: $1 exacta box 4/6/10, $3 exacta box 4/10, $1 exacta 4,10/6 ($14)

DFJ analysis: Ricardo Santana Jr. and Luis Saez are poised for big performances this President’s Day. Santana has the call on seven entries on Monday, all of which are 6-1 or below on the morning-line. That includes Untrapped (9-2) in the Razorback Handicap and COMBATANT in the Southwest Stakes.

Saez also has seven mounts, also all at 6-1 or below on the morning-line, and is live in both stakes. Leofric (9-2) is his Razorback mount, while SPORTING CHANCE goes in the Southwest.

Follow me on Twitter: @itsgood2beking