The Smarty Jones is a one mile event for three year olds preparing for the Kentucky Derby later in May. This is the time when younger horses are developing foundation and experience for longer distances. In this article we look at the contenders lined up for this year's Smarty Jones Stakes edition.
Plenty of eyes will be on the Brad Cox horse CADDO RIVER at 5-2, who comes off a commanding win blasting rivals at Churchill by 9 ¼ lengths. Many expect him to romp once more, and even take in money for the Kentucky Derby Future Pool, which opens tomorrow. He hasn't run since November 15th, but has been training consistently at Oaklawn Park.
He will clash with the favorite of the race, COWAN (9-5 ml), who is one of two horses from the Steve Asmussen barn entered in the race. COWAN enters off a second place effort, having run into perhaps a monster in SENOR BUSCADOR — who earned an impressive 107 Equibase Figure beating COWAN. But COWAN wasn't embarrassed in the slightest, as he ran on and still earned an 84 Beyer in defeat, which is still superior to CADDO RIVER'S best Beyer figure of 83.
These are the top two but don't discount the rest of the field! It's an intriguing bunch coming in with different resumes, which makes it a fun betting race.
Handicapping this type of race is interesting because it's so early in the year. It's during this period when these younger colts are stretching out for the first time, or making first starts for a new trainer, or taking class tests, or dropping in class from facing tougher.
The horse breaking from the inside, MARTINI BLUE at 6-1, is interesting. He won his first and only start, which was already at 1-mile and 70 yards. Not only did he pass the two turn test, he won by 5 ¼ lengths.
Look at BIG THORN, the second entrant by Asmussen. Here's a horse who was previously racing for trainer David Fawkes, which In that time scored at Gulfstream Park against stakes company. BIG THORN earned a solid 75 Beyer figure doing so. But in his next start, he ran poorly finishing ninth and last. Well, he gets moved to the Asmussen and one must wonder if under a new training regiment he revives his form. The 75 Beyer figure he earned puts him competitively in this.
Looking for a long shot play? Try LAWLESSNESS, the number two horse, at double digit odds of 12-1. He puts on blinkers for the first time. Some horses become totally different competitors with such an equipment change.
Both of LAWLESSNESS'S races looked promising, despite running a bit green one race back. He drifted out, yes, but he was gaining. He will certainly need to improve on figures to win this.
If you're looking for early speed, try the number six horse MOONLIGHT STRIKE at 4-1, and the number five horse HARDLY SWAYED at 12-1.
HARDLY SWAYED comes in having won two races in a row both at Mahoning Valley. It was a front running score that earned him 63 Beyer speed figure.
MOONLINGHT STRIKE, in the same way, won in front running fashion last time out. It was a smart win against Optional Claiming 75K competition, having beat relatively tougher foes while conquering the one mile distance test into the bargain.