Updated on 09/17/2011 11:00AM

Comic Truth a fresh threat

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Gary Burbrink/Lang Photography
Great Notion (inside) ships to Oaklawn Park for Saturday's $75,000 Southwest Stakes off a nose defeat to Champali in Turfway's January 4 Prevue Stakes.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The $75,000 Southwest Stakes for 3-year-olds Saturday at Oaklawn Park is a transitional race for a number of colts in the seven-horse field. For some, the one-mile race will be their first start around two turns, and for others, it will tell if they belong on the road to the Grade 2, $500,000 Arkansas Derby April 12.

Comic Truth is the most accomplished starter in the Southwest. With three stakes wins, including one around two turns, Comic Truth could be favored in a field that includes such promising colts as Alke, runner-up to Champali in the Grade 3 Iroquois, Great Notion, and Sir Cherokee.

Comic Truth has not raced since Dec. 21, when he finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length by Outta Here, in the inaugural $500,000 Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs.

"We gave him a little time off," said trainer Cole Norman. "We thought we would freshen him up, [because] as a 3-year-old if he continues to mature and do well there are a lot of options down the road for him."

Sir Cherokee also got some downtime following his 2-year-old season, which he closed out with a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.

The rest has served him well.

"He's really made a big step forward as far as maturity," said trainer Mike Tomlinson.

In his comeback race last month, Sir Cherokee waited when stuck in traffic on the final turn, then turned it on in the stretch when clear to win a one-mile conditioned allowance at Oaklawn. James Lopez will ride.

Terry Thompson will ride Great Notion, who will be making his two-turn debut after showing speed in his first three starts. He won his debut at Churchill Downs in November, covering six furlongs in 1:09.80. One start later, he romped by 8 1/2 lengths in a Turfway Park allowance race before finishing second, a nose behind Champali, in that track's $50,000 Prevue Jan. 4.

Trainer Darrin Miller feels Great Notion's mental maturity will help him adapt to two-turn racing. He also said the short stretch of Oaklawn's one-mile races, which end at the sixteenth pole, might benefit the colt.

Alke is out to give trainer Bob Holthus his third win in the Southwest in four years. Alke was set to make his 3-year-old debut in the $50,000 Mountain Valley opening weekend, but the race did not fill and he has since worked sharply for the Southwest.

"He was lightly raced as a 2-year-old, and beat a pretty good field when he broke his maiden at Keeneland," Holthus said.

Alke, a half-brother to stakes winners Debit My Account and Red n'Gold, raced in a hind bar shoe as a 2-year-old, but the quarter crack he sustained last year has since grown out, and this will be his first start without that equipment. Jon Court will ride.

* Training resumed Thursday afternoon after an ice storm had canceled training Tuesday and Wednesday. Racing was expected to resume Friday.

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