2015 Smarty Jones Stakes Preview
Martin Luther King Jr. day will have the ungraded Smarty Jones Stakes as the lone Kentucky Derby Prep race. This race is the first in a series of four races at Oaklawn Park for 3 year olds that will culminate with the Arkansas Derby on April 11. This race will award 10 points to the winner, 4 points the runner up, 2 points to the third place finisher, and one point to the fourth place horse. The points will help one of these horses get a step closer to a spot in the starting gate via the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard.
The Smarty Jones Stakes has a field of 9 horses going 1 mile on Oaklawn’s main track. (For those unaware, Oaklawn does not have a turf course). The forecast calls for a sun filled sky with temperatures in the 60’s. The nine three-year olds will be running for a purse of $150,000 with a scheduled post time of 5:38 PM Eastern Time. Below is a look at each of the nine starters in the Smarty Jones Stakes.
1. Far Right (6-1 Morning Line) – The rail horse has quite a respectable resume with a win, two seconds, and two-thirds from 6 career starts. It took him three starts to break his maiden and his first foray into stakes competition was the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont. He was fourth beaten 6 1/2 lengths while returning to finish third in his next two races in third place. Those two races were the Street Sense Stakes and the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot. He should be able to get a great spot behind the leaders from the rail, but he seems like an underneath finisher at best here.
2. Paid Admission (20-1 ML) – The second longest shot on the morning line enter this race after breaking his maiden last time out in his fourth race. That was at 6.5 furlongs at Delta Downs and now he stretches back out to a mile. His third career start was Churchill Downs going 1 1/16 miles and he finished 7th of 8 that day while being defeated 27 lengths. This guy will need to take a gigantic leap forward to make an impression on this race; pass.
3. Mr. Z (2-1 ML) – The morning line favorite is more than deserving of the odds bestowed upon him. He has run in 7 straight graded stakes races after breaking his maiden. He has faced the likes of Dortmund, Ocho Ocho Ocho, Texas Red, and Carpe Diem so there is little doubt of his class. However, he has just one win from 8 starts with 4 second place finishes. He certainly will be a major factor here, but will his effort be enough to win or finish second again?
4. American Sailor (15-1 ML) – He has run 4 career races with alternating results; 9th, win, 4th, win. He has yet to run past 6 furlongs in his career and this is not the worst spot to try him going long. However, he will need to improve to contend here. Pass on him in this race.
5. Hebbronville (9-2 ML) – His career began with a bang by winning his first two starts and then running second in the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont on October 5. His next start was the Grade 2 Nashua where he bobbled at the start and was eased in the stretch. He has not raced since that then, but his workouts have been very good leading up to this race. He should be sitting right off the leaders and assuming everything is back to normal for him, he has a chance to get the win.
6. Lucky Player (5-1 ML) – He began his career with 2 wins and a second place finish in his first four career starts before running back-to-back poor races. His fifth race was the Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile where he finished 16 lengths behind the winner in 8th place. After that race, he went back to the Midwest and ran in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. He finished 7th beaten 11 lengths in that race. If he can revert back to his Grade 3 Iroquois form he has a chance, but we will let him beat us here for the win.
7. Bayerd (9-2 ML) – Co-second choice on the morning line at 9/2, Bayerd is an intriguing horse. He has 5 career starts with 3 wins, a second, and a third. His first start was a 3rd place finish at Saratoga before he won his second race at Saratoga by 11 lengths. A month later on September 28, he won the Kip Deville at Remington Park by a length. A second place finish in another stakes races was followed up by a second stakes victory last race at 1 mile. He is a very interesting horse with a good shot at winning here.
8. Private Prospect (6-1 ML) – He began his career 3 for 3 including back-to-back stakes wins at Prairie Meadows. Those 2 races came at 5.5 furlongs and 1 mile. His fourth career start was a second place finish in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity by a head. His connections parlayed the successful early career into a start in the Grade 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile, but his luck was not as good. He finished 9th of 11 horses, beaten 17 lengths, and took a break after that race. The waters are not as deep in this spot, which bodes well for him.
9. Runaway Bling (30-1 ML) – The longest shot on the morning line is up against it in this race. He broke his maiden in his fourth career start, but the last two races have been atrocious. Those 2 races resulted in last place finishes and he was beaten a total of 45 lengths combined. Another horse to pass on in this race.
2. Mr. Z
3. Private Prospect
Check back on Monday evening for a recap of the Smarty Jones Stakes!