Smarty Jones Lures Eight Kentucky Derby Hopefuls

Uncontested has been made the 2-1 morning line favorite in Monday’s featured Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park, which kicked off its 2017 season on Friday.  The one-mile race is Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby preps that includes the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) on Feb. 20, the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) on March 18 and, finally, the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 15. The Smarty Jones is worth 17 Road to the Kentucky Derby points, with 10 of those going to the winner.

Smarty-Jones-Winners

In the brief history of the Smarty Jones, only one of the nine winners — Far Right — has gone on to win the Southwest (Flat Out skipped the race in 2009) and none has won the Arkansas Derby or the Kentucky Derby.

Still, the race has produced some notable equine performers, like Will Take Charge, who subsequently won the Travers (G1), Pennsylvania Derby (G2), Clark (G1) and Oaklawn Handicap (G2). He was also second by the hair of his chinny-chin-chin in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Caleb’s Posse is another Smarty Jones champion of note, as he later captured the King’s Bishop (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

Below is a look at this year’s field:

Smarty-Jones

Although most previous Smarty Jones winners showed some early zip (-9 average early speed ration), only one horse — Dryfly in 2010 — actually wired the field, which obviously doesn’t bode well for Uncontested, who has lived up to his name by securing clear leads at the first call in each of his two career races.

Personally, I’m keeping my eye of Petrov, who showed early speed in his debut, but motored home in his second start, the King’s Swan at Aqueduct (-5 late speed ration), and also Rowdy the Warrior.

“Rowdy” possesses the best overall LSRs in the field and he’s trained by Donnie Von Hemmel, who sent out the aforementioned Caleb’s Posse in 2011.

Note: For the complete 2017 stakes schedule at Oaklawn Park, click HERE.

Speed Rations Explained

Derek Simon
Derek Simon is the Senior Editor and Handicapper at US Racing.