Smarty Jones Stakes
January 25, Friday, 4:50 p.m.
Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs, AR
While the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park is an ungraded stakes race for 3-year-old thoroughbreds looking to take a step in the right direction on the 2019 Kentucky Derby Trail, the field for Friday’s race says otherwise with some strong competition.
Famed trainer Steve Asmussen has a trio of his top colts in the field along with a few other prospects that have caught the eye of Horse Racing Nation with their early rating. The entered field stretches nine wide and the betting action for this one-mile run on the dirt should be the highlight of the day at Oaklawn.
Tracking the Top Contenders
The morning line odds for this race should single out trainer William Fires’ Gray Attempt as the favorite. Breaking from the No. 8 post with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan getting the call, this 3-year-old Kentucky-bred colt earned high marks in his final race as a juvenile with a victory in the ungraded Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course on December 22. He covered the six furlongs on dirt in 1:10.45 over Manny Wah and Hog Creek Hustle.
This was on the heals of a pair of runs at Churchill Downs in Maiden Special Weight events. After slipping to fourth on Nov. 2 at six furlongs, this son of Graydar went on to win his next race at 6½ furlongs later that month. Stepping up to the longer one-mile distance of this race will be a great test to see where he goes from here. Gray Attempt’s 6.29 HRN rating is the highest in the field.
The second choice for Friday’s race on the morning line should be Long Range Toddy coming off a strong showing in last year’s ungraded Remington Springboard Mile on December 22. This is Asmussen’s top entry of the day with jockey Richard Eramia breaking him out of the No. 1 post. This Kentucky-bred colt bested the field at Remington in that race to close down his juvenile campaign. He covered the mile on dirt in 1:39.75 over Bankit and Dunph.
Prior to that victory, he took first place in the ungraded Clever Trevor Stakes at that same track on Nov. 2. His winning time over seven furlongs was 1:23.34 ahead of Cajun Firecracker and Tobacco Road. Sired by Take Charge Indy, his current HRN rating stands at 6.22.
— Parx Racing (@parxracing) January 23, 2019
One to Watch
The other seven three-year colts in the field have had varying levels of success as juveniles, but I have my eye on one of Asmussen’s other entries as one to watch on Friday at Oaklawn. Boldor will have veteran jockey RA Vazquez leading the way out of the No. 5 post in this race. This Virginia-bred colt closed out last season with a second-place finish in an Allowance Claimer at Churchill on November 24 at six and half furlongs behind Super Steed, who is also in Friday’s field.
Interestingly enough, he slipped past that same colt to win a Maiden Special Weight race at Keeneland in late October. He covered the six furlongs on dirt in 1:10.87. Each of these contenders could be going head-to-head against one on Friday for another finish in the money. However, I still think this pedigree of Munnings has the edge between the two. His current HRN rating of 6.19 puts Boldor on par with the top two contenders in the field.