02/15/2006 12:00AM

Southwest lineup shaping up


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Steppenwolfer and Travelin Leroy put in their final works on Wednesday morning for the $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The colts are among the eight early probables for Monday's one-mile Southwest, which is headed by Grade 3 winner .

, who won the allowance prep for the Southwest on Feb. 3, breezed a half-mile in 48.80 seconds after the renovation break on Wednesday.

"It was just what we were wanting, a nice easy half," said Dan Peitz, who trains Steppenwolfer. "It was a little maintenance move, to let him stretch his legs a little bit. He did it the right way. He finished up well and galloped out good."

Steppenwolfer, who has won 3 of his 4 dirt starts, will be ridden by Robby Albarado.

Travelin Leroy also worked after the break, breezing five furlongs in 1:03.80. He will be making his first start since finishing third in the Maryland Juvenile Championship at Laurel on Dec. 31. Gammy Vazquez trains , who will be ridden by Carlos Marquez Jr.

John McKee has the mount on Lawyer Ron, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 106 for his win in the Risen Star during the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs last out. The colt is trained by Bob Holthus.

Other early probables for the race are Hyte Regency, Kingsfield, , Red Raymond, and Sharp Attack. Possibles include Admiral's Arch, Celluloid Hero, and Fidrych.

"The race looks like it should have anywhere from eight to 11 horses," said Pat Pope, Oaklawn's racing secretary, on Wednesday.

The Southwest is the first leg of the 3-year-old series at Oaklawn, which also includes the Grade 3, $300,000 Rebel on March 18, and the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 15.

The Southwest's purse was increased from $100,000 last year, and the race was included in early-bird nominations to Oaklawn's 3-year-old series this year. In all, 108 horses were nominated to the series. Last year, there were 94 early nominees to the Rebel and Arkansas Derby, and 31 nominations to the Southwest.

The forecast Monday is for showers and a high of 45 degrees. The Southwest is one of three stakes on Presidents Day weekend at Oaklawn. The $50,000 Pippin is on Saturday, and the $50,000 Martha Washington is on Sunday.