02/13/2007 12:00AM

Xchanger ships in for Southwest

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Xchanger, who won the Grade 3 Sapling at Monmouth Park in September, arrived at Oaklawn Park on Tuesday morning to run in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes here Monday, said his trainer, Mark Shuman.

Xchanger made the 18-hour van ride to Arkansas from his Fair Hill training center base in Maryland. He is making his first start of the year in the one-mile Southwest, following a troubled third-place finish in the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs in his last start Dec. 1.

"The timing is good, the money is good, and the distance is good," Shuman said of the Southwest.

Joe Bravo will ride Xchanger, he said.

Xchanger was freshened following the Delta Jackpot, in which he finished 3 3/4 lengths behind the winner, Birdbirdistheword, after being forced to steady going into the final turn of the 1 1/16-mile race. Pirates Deputy finished second in the Jackpot and won the $141,000 California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita in his next start.

Xchanger shows a strong series of works, the latest a six-furlong breeze in 1:11 at Fair Hill last Sunday.

"He's really worked incredible," said Shuman. "He's really taken a liking to the all-weather surface at Fair Hill.

"He's really doing good right now, that's another reason to ship that far. He's training good. I might be completely wrong, but I think he's trying to tell us he's ready to run."

Xchanger has won 2 of 5 starts. Following his debut win at 5 1/2 furlongs at Monmouth, he won the Sapling Stakes. Xchanger then finished sixth in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont and third in the Grade 3 Nashua at Aqueduct before running in the Delta Jackpot.

"He's grown a little bit and filled out some, so I'm hoping he's going the right way," said Shuman. "He's acting like he's gotten better, so we'll keep our fingers crossed and see what happens."

Shuman was traveling to Hot Springs on Tuesday. He trains Xchanger, a son of Exchange Rate, for Domenico Zannino.

There were six probables for the Southwest as of Tuesday. Hard Spun is in after a strong five-furlong work here on Monday, said his trainer, Larry Jones. Forty Grams, a winner of his last two starts, is also set to run, his trainer, Steve Asmussen, said on Tuesday.

Going Ballistic, a two-time stakes winner at a mile, has been pointing for the Southwest for trainer Donnie Von Hemel, while Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity winner Officer Rocket has been training toward the race for trainer Bob Holthus. The Southwest is also expected to draw the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Starbase, an allowance winner last out who ran third in the Grade 3 Iroquois in October.

The Southwest on Monday is one of three stakes to be run during the holiday weekend at Oaklawn. The $50,000 Pippin for fillies and mares is on Saturday, and the $50,000 Martha Washington for 3-year-old fillies is on Sunday.

Downthedustyroad gets the nod

Downthedustyroad will be named horse of the year by the Arkansas Thoroughbred Breeders' and Horsemen's Association when its award banquet is held on March 31 at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs. She is the first registered Arkansas-bred filly ever to win a Grade 1 stakes, said Deana Echols, executive secretary of the ATBHA.

Downthedustyroad won the Gradeo1 La Brea at Santa Anita in December. Last month, she was sold at auction for $1.5 million, and she is currently in training with Bob Baffert. Downthedustyroad, a daughter of Storm and a Half, began her career at Oaklawn, and won a $25,000 maiden claimer there in her second career start in February 2006.

Two sprints highlight Thursday card

An optional claimer for older horses and one for 3-year-old fillies top the action here Thursday. In the eighth race, Four Sevens invades from Fair Grounds to take on 11 rivals in a six-furlong sprint. Trainer Ronny Werner has given the mount to Luis Quinonez. Two others of interest in the race are Allowance and Smile and Tears.

In the ninth race, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies, Passthemoneyhoney and Angel Smoke both should get a nice pace to close into. There are a number of quick fillies in the race, which also drew impressive maiden winner Classify.

Kenny Smith trains Passthe-moneyhoney, and has given the mount to Tim Doocy. Eddie Razo has the mount on Angel Smoke for trainer Mac Robertson.

* The winter convention of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association was held last week in Hot Springs, and as part of the event the Arkansas division handed out lifetime achievement awards to trainers Bob Holthus and Don Von Hemel. The Arkansas HBPA also recognized owner Buddy Coleman for his contributions to the organization's board of directors, according to Loretta Brennan, the secretary-treasurer of the organization.