This weekend’s 2019 Kentucky Derby Trail gets an early start at Oaklawn Park with the running of this year’s Smarty Jones Stakes as part of Friday’s race card.
<h2 style="text-align:center">Smarty Jones Stakes</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">January 25, Friday, 4:50 p.m.</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs, AR</h2><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><h2><strong>Tracking the Top Contenders</strong></h2><p>The morning line odds for this race should single out trainer William Fires’ <strong>Gray Attempt</strong> 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.</p><p>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.</p><p>The second choice for Friday’s race on the morning line should be <strong>Long Range Toddy</strong> 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.</p><p>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.</p><p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The 2019 Smarty Jones Stakes kicks off the race meet at Oaklawn Park this Friday. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/americasbestracing?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#americasbestracing</a> takes a look at the line up. <a href="https://t.co/g9kQxnaQYY">https://t.co/g9kQxnaQYY</a></p>&mdash; Parx Racing (@parxracing) <a href="https://twitter.com/parxracing/status/1088075516459003905?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 23, 2019</a></blockquote></p><h2><strong>One to Watch</strong></h2><p>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. <strong>Boldor</strong> 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.</p><p>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 <strong>Boldor </strong>on par with the top two contenders in the field.</p><p> </p><p> </p>