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Trainer Jinks Fires said Triple Crown nominee Gray Attempt is scheduled to complete major preparations Sunday for the Grade 3 $500,000 Southwest Stakes with a 5-furlong workout Sunday morning.

Owned by Dwight Pruett, of Texarkana, Gray Attempt has won three consecutive starts in front-running fashion, including the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes on Jan. 25. The Smarty Jones and Southwest for 3-year-olds on Feb. 18 are Oaklawn's first major preps for the Kentucky Derby.

Gray Attempt has not breezed since winning the 1-mile Smarty Jones by a neck, his first start around two turns.

"I'm not going to gut him, but I'm going to go on and let him work," said Fires, of Hot Springs.

Early bird nominations to the Southwest, Grade 2 $1 million Rebel Stakes on March 16 and Grade 1 $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 13 closed Thursday.

Like the Smarty Jones, the 1 1/16-mile Southwest will offer 17 points to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. Post positions for the Southwest will be drawn Friday.

Trainer Paul Holthus, of Hot Springs, said Six Shooter will race in blinkers for the first time in the Southwest Stakes. Six Shooter completed major preparations for the Southwest by working 5 furlongs in :59 4-5 during a half-hour training window early Friday afternoon under Stewart Elliott.

Six Shooter, in blinkers, breezed in company with 4-year-old stablemate Gettin Even, who was credited with 5 furlongs in 1:00 1-5. The surface was rated muddy. Six Shooter is coming off a fourth-place finish, beaten 1 1/2 lengths in the Smarty Jones. Elliott rode the Trappe Shot gelding for the first time in the race.

"The last time he ran, he was up in between horses and sucked back out of there when he turned up the backside," Holthus said. "After talking to Stewart, we both thought that if he hadn't done that, it might have made a difference in the race.

"If he would have been two lengths closer, it would have been two lengths less he would have had to make up. I don't see any reason not to put them on him, really."

Holthus said it's the first time he has worked Six Shooter in blinkers, but the gelding has galloped "a couple of times" in the equipment since the Smarty Jones "just to make sure he wasn't going to get too aggressive." He said Six Shooter emerged from the work in good order and was "bouncing around the barn" Saturday morning.

"He's kind of a light made horse, that's why I like to breeze him a little farther out," Holthus said. "I just felt like a week was too close for him. I didn't know if we'd get to train today, so I'm glad they finally opened it up and let us train for a half-hour yesterday."

Sports on 02/10/2019

Print Headline: Smarty Jones winner scheduled to work toward Southwest start

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