We’ve already visited the Big Easy and the City by the Bay this weekend — but with Presidents’ Day on Monday, the Derby trail winds to Oaklawn Park for the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes, the second of four preps during this winter’s Hot Springs meet. Though the Kentucky Derby points haul isn’t huge — it’s the final 10-4-2-1 — the $500,000 purse is massive for a Grade 3.
The Southwest Stakes will be run for the fifty-third time this year. The race was run in 1959, 1962, and then every year from 1968 to the present day. Originally a sprint, the race was extended to a mile in 1984, and then to its current 1 1/16 mile distance in 2013. The first year in which it was a key Derby prep was 1992: though 17/1 D. Wayne Lukas bomb Big Sur wired the field that day, second-place Pine Bluff won the Preakness, and third-place Lil E. Tee took home the roses on the first Saturday in May.