The $250,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) is one of the major Triple Crown prep races on the Arkansas path, with the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby the next races in the series. A field of 11 3-year-olds contested this 1 mile trip over the Oaklawn Park oval, with J P's Gusto sent off as the 6-5 favorite off his second place finish in the CashCall Futurity. In to challenge him included 2-1 second choice Elite Alex, a close second in an allowance last out and making his stakes debut, and 7-1 third choice Caleb's Posse off his win in the Smarty Jones Stakes.
30-1 longshot Derivative battled for the lead with 60-1 Brickyard Fast through fractions of 22.60, 46.88, and 1:12.04 over the fast track, with 36-1 Grant Jack stalking them close in third. Entering the stretch, the pacesetters tired, allowing 14-1 Archarcharch, who rated in fifth early, to pass them 5 wide and open up a 2 1/2 length advantage at the 1/8 pole. J P's Gusto, fourth early, came through late to challenge but was left with too much ground to make up as Archarcharch easily held him off by 1 length in 1:38.23. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Elite Alex third.
Winning owner Robert Yagos said, "He was a different horse today. He was a little rank that day and he's a horse who wants to sit off the pace a little bit, so when he got pushed around a little bit he got keyed up and put himself on the lead. On that track that day, it was so tiring. He pretty much wore himself out that day. He always works good, and that was one of the reasons (Trainer) Jinks (Fires) has been so high on him. He's always acted like a good horse. The ringing died down (phone calls to buy him). I imagine it will pick back up again, but I don't think we would sell him."
Winning trainer William "Jinks" Fires said, "I was a little worried when I saw him sitting back in the gate at the start. He didn't get away to well. Then on the first turn he got slammed around a little bit. I felt good when I saw Jon move up outside because he was able to overcome all that. He's a pretty agile horse. I will sit down with all my owners and we will make the decision together. Mr. Blass has Bluegrass Jam for the Rebel, so we could have him there. We will see what we do after we talk." Jockey Jon Court added, "It set up perfectly for us. In the Smarty Jones I was almost forced to the front on a tiring track and I knew his best chance today was going to be if he was able to sit right off the lead. He did it very willingly today. We're going to have a lot of fun with this horse."
Ramon Dominguez aboard beaten favorite and runner-up J P's Gusto said, "At the 1/4 pole, when I wanted to move, there were horses around me and I couldn't get out. When the winner started moving up super early I could have gotten out, but I thought I didn't want to have to make my move so soon. I figured I'd take my chances. I knew about the short stretch, but we just didn't get the chance to get out in time. He felt like the mile is right up his alley."