02/17/2012 4:13PM

Oaklawn: Longview Drive sharpens for crowded Southwest

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Benoit Photo
Longview Drive (far right), third in the Sham at Santa Anita, is among a big group of 3-year-olds considered probable for Monday's Southwest at Oaklawn Park. There is a possibility the race will be split into two divisions.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Longview Drive completed his preparations for Monday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Friday morning, when he breezed a half-mile in 48.20 seconds. He worked first after the renovation break, and after easing into the drill came home strongly, with Oaklawn clockers catching his final quarter in 22.80 seconds. The move was the second fastest of 57 at the distance Friday.

Longview Drive will enter the Southwest, which could be split into two divisions, off a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Sham at a mile at Santa Anita on Jan. 7. His trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, said there were a couple of reasons to ship to Oaklawn from the horse’s base in Southern California.

“He ran a good race at Santa Anita,” he said. “But the next race out there is seven-eighths, and I didn’t want to cut him back in distance [for the San Vicente]. And the logistics of getting to Oaklawn are better than a lot of places. The plane goes right into Hot Springs.”

Longview Drive, a full brother to Grade 1 winner Pyro, arrived Tuesday. He flew in with Secret Circle, the winner of the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint. As of Friday, there were at least 21 probables for the Southwest, said Oaklawn racing secretary Pat Pope.

Entries for the race were to be taken on Saturday morning, and at that time it will be determined whether the Southwest is split. If so, each division will be a Grade 3, and each will be worth $250,000. If it is not split, the maximum field will be limited to 14.

If the Southwest is run in divisions, Oaklawn will likely have a special daily double covering the two races, said Jennifer Hoyt, the track’s media relations manager. The divisions would tentatively be run as the eighth and ninth on Monday.

Apprehender needs Southwest to split

Apprehender, who earned a Beyer Figure of 98 for winning a maiden special weight in his career debut Jan. 26, has since been pointing for the Southwest. But in order to run, he will likely need the race to be split as most of the probables have higher earnings than Apprehender in non-restricted races – the criteria used to determine entry.

“I’ve been praying every day that they split this race and we get in,” said the horse’s trainer, Ingrid Mason.

Apprehender won his debut at 5 1/2 furlongs and will be making the move to a mile for the Southwest.

“I do believe he can get the distance and then some,” Mason said. “He showed tremendous speed in his first race. But I never thought his best distance was a sprinter. He could prove me wrong, but from day one I always thought he was going to be a mile or further.”

Apprehender wired the field in his debut, and while he wore blinkers in that race, Mason said she has obtained stewards’ permission to remove the equipment for the Southwest.

“I just want him to relax,” she said. “He’s got to learn to pace himself, and that’s basically what I’ve been doing with him, a lot of two-minute licks.”

Apprehender is a son of Posse and the multiple Grade 1-winning mare Missy’s Mirage. He was a $21,000 yearling purchase at Keeneland in September 2010.

“Missy’s Mirage was an incredible mare,” Mason said. “She won 50 percent of her races, and she won going six furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth. And most of her races were in major stakes. Her offspring, in the beginning, went for millions of dollars. They didn’t really do a whole lot, and [the price of] her progeny went down.”

Missy’s Mirage’s highest earner to date is Magic Mirage, a winner of $88,677. Mason noted Apprehender is the first owned by John and Chris Robson.

“They’re very excited,” she said. “This horse is a blessing for everybody.”

Mason, a former jockey and 40-year-old native of Santa Clara, Calif., first came to Oaklawn in 2010 with five horses. She now has 26 horses in her stable, and has gone 6 for 21 with her starters this meet to rank eighth in the standings at Oaklawn.

◗ Jockey Shane Laviolette has been suspended three days for misjudging the finish line aboard C J Jones, who finished second in the second race Feb. 12.