Several of the top two-year-olds from last year will begin their three-year-old campaign when they collide on Saturday in the 2021 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The Brad Cox-trained Essential Quality won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year and claimed the Eclipse award as a champion two-year-old. The Steve Asmussen-trained Jackie's Warrior finished fourth in the Juvenile and was one of two other finalists for the Eclipse award. On Saturday, Essential Quality is the 3-2 favorite in the current 2021 Southwest Stakes odds.
Jackie's Warrior is right behind Essential Quality at 8-5 in the 2021 Southwest Stakes field of seven. The winner of the 1 1/16-mile race will receive 10 qualifying points towards the Kentucky Derby. Post time for the $750,000 Southwest Stakes 2021 is 5:58 p.m. ET. With two heavy favorites ready to enter the starting gate on Saturday, you'll want to check out what racing insider Bob Weir has to say before making any 2021 Southwest Stakes picks.
Based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Weir has been handicapping and following horse racing since reading Andy Beyer's landmark handicapping book "Picking Winners" in the late 1980s. Weir is highly invested in the Beyer Speed Figure, a number assigned to every race run by a horse that measures how fast the horse ran. He uses the figure as the backbone of his handicapping. In fact, thanks to his proficiency with speed figures and top-tier handicapping, he landed one of just eight spots on Beyer's figure-making team in 2017, a position he holds to this day.
Weir's methodology has produced multiple five-figure days. In 2014, he hit a $60,000 Pick 6 at Del Mar. The following year, he nailed a $31,000 Pick 6 at Gulfstream Park. In 2016 and 2017, Weir qualified for the prestigious National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas.
Last year, his first for SportsLine, Weir was on fire. On June 13, Weir hit a $2 superfecta in the Ogden Phipps Stakes that paid a whopping $1,039. He crushed the exacta and trifecta in the Forego Stakes in August for $1,134.50. He hit the late Pick 4 at Belmont Park on June 18, June 19, June 25, July 2 and July 5, with the June 25 score returning a whopping $2,159.50. And, three weeks ago, he nailed the exacta in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Those are just some of his hits for SportsLine.
Anyone who has followed Weir is way up. Now, Weir has handicapped the 2021 Southwest Stakes field, made his picks and constructed his bets. You can only see them here.
Top 2021 Southwest Stakes predictions
One shocker: Weir's top pick is not Essential Quality, even though he is the 3-2 morning-line favorite. A Godolphin homebred son of Tapit, Essential Quality is a perfect 3-for-3 in his career. His Breeders' Cup Juvenile win was arguably his most impressive, defeating a quality field and earning a lofty 95 Beyer Speed Figure.
However, this off-the-pace runner took advantage of a pace meltdown in the Juvenile. However, in a small seven-horse field, he's not likely to get that same pace setup on Saturday. In addition, Weir believes that the connections for Essential Quality haven't made winning the Southwest Stakes 2021 a priority with more important races just weeks away.
"I doubt he's fully cranked for this first race of the year," Weir told SportsLine. Weir will not have Essential Quality on top on any of his tickets.
How to make 2021 Southwest Stakes picks
Instead, Weir's top pick is a horse who "appears to be training well" entering Saturday's race. He also is high on a double-digit long shot who "could track along in a perfect spot," spicing up your exotics. Weir is including these horses in his trifectas and superfectas, and so should you. He's sharing which horses to back only at SportsLine.
So who wins the Southwest Stakes 2021? And which double-digit long shot is a must-back? Check out the latest Southwest Stakes odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Weir's picks for the Southwest Stakes.