02/21/2011 8:31PM

Archarcharch overcomes early trouble to upset Southwest Stakes at 14-1

Coady Photography
Archarcharch, winner of the Southwest Stakes, is likely to be close to 10-1 in Saturday's Rebel Stakes.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Archarcharch showed talent to win his maiden in a stakes race back in December, and his abilities were evident again on Monday when he overcame trouble and put in a sustained, four-wide bid to win the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest by a length over favorite J P’s Gusto.

It was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third to Elite Alex in what was Oaklawn Park’s first major prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 16.

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Archarcharch ($31) broke a step slow in the one-mile Southwest as Brickyard Fast and Derivative dueled through an opening quarter in 22.60 seconds and continued to go at it through a half-mile in 46.88 seconds. Ararcharcharch, meanwhile, was shuffled wide in the first turn, then was able to get on track down the backside and began to make progress past the half-mile pole under regular rider Jon Court.

“I felt good when I saw Jon move up to the outside,” said Jinks Fires, who trains Archarcharch.

“We had a little trouble leaving the gate, but he was sitting on the back of the gate and then he didn’t get away like we wanted. Then in the first turn he was in trouble. He got slammed out. He was in a little trouble in that first turn and I was afraid that was going to hurt him.”

Archarcharch recovered, advanced nicely around the final turn while racing four-wide, and then moved to the lead in the stretch. He covered the distance on a fast track in 1:38.23, with the race ending at the sixteenth pole, as do all one-mile races at Oaklawn.

J P’s Gusto, the winner of last year’s Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity who was making his first start for new trainer Joe Petalino, did not get a clear run along the inside and rallied for second.

 “He came running,” said Ramon Dominguez, who rode the horse for the first time Monday.

Dominguez said he felt J P’s Gusto, who had spent most of his career racing on synthetic surfaces in Southern California, handled the dirt fine in the Southwest.

Fires said Archarcharch would likely make his next start in the Grade 3, $300,000 Rebel at Oaklawn on March 19. The Southwest was his second career stakes win behind the $56,000 Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds on Dec. 18. Archarcharch, who earned $150,000 for his win in the Southwest, races for Robert Yagos. The horse is a son of Arch and was a $60,000 yearling purchase at Keeneland in September 2009.

Attendance ontrack Monday was 25,237.