The 2019 Smarty Jones Stakes kicks off the always-anticipated race meet at Oaklawn Park on Friday. It’s the first of Oaklawn’s four prep races for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, followed by the Southwest Stakes on Feb. 18, the Rebel Stakes on March 16, and the Arkansas Derby on April 13. Read on to learn more about the race and for a closer look at this year’s nine-horse field.
Racetrack: Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.
Date: Jan. 25
Distance: 1 mile
Post Time: 4:52 p.m. ET
Notable winners: 2013 Travers Stakes winner and champion 3-year-old male Will Take Charge, 2011-12 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Flat Out, 2011 Foxwood King’s Bishop Stakes winner Caleb’s Posse
First held: 2008
Kentucky Derby points: 10-4-2-1 to top four finishers, respectively
1. Long Range Toddy (4-1): Enters on a three-race win streak at Remington Park, including most recently the Springboard Mile, a Derby Points race. Training well at Oaklawn and is a win candidate in the Smarty Jones, which will be his first start away from Remington. Read Mike Curry’s profile for ABR here.
2. Sleepy Eyes Todd (30-1): Won his career debut in a 6 ½-furlong maiden claiming race at Remington Park, his only start. Appears overmatched against this field.
JOCKEY: David Cabrera TRAINER: Miguel Silva
3. Super Steed (9-2): Lost by a head to Smarty Jones entrant Boldor in his Keeneland debut, then defeated that foe by six lengths in a runaway win at Churchill Downs. Disappointed when fourth as the favorite in the six-furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds in his most recent start, but did appear to pick it up in the stretch and has a good pedigree for longer races. Eligible to rebound.
4. Six Shooter (6-1): The most experienced starter having raced seven times, with three wins. Finished last of 11 in the Springboard Mile after a rough trip but bounced back in his most recent effort, winning the 7 ½-furlong Big Drama Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths at Delta Downs. Also has a win in a one-mile race at Churchill Downs. A repeat of either of those efforts puts him right in the mix. Trainer Paul Holthus is the son of the late Bob Holthus, a perennial leading trainer at Oaklawn.
5. Boldor (8-1): Only has two starts, but defeated Super Steed in his first and then ran a clear second behind that foe who romped in the slop at Churchill. A $700,000 auction purchase, he has been training lights-out at Oaklawn. Should be a pace factor and is a must-use in exotics. Two-turn ability is a question mark.
6. Forloveofcountry (12-1): Made four straight starts on turf, including his maiden win, before switching to dirt and winning a one-mile allowance by 1 ¼ lengths in the slop at Churchill. Was closer to the pace in that start as opposed to his turf races and will need to repeat that strategy to have a shot in the Smarty Jones.
7. Bankit (7-2): Was rolling late from last of 11 in the Springboard Mile and came up a head short to Long Range Toddy. He has finished first or second in five of his six starts, and in the only other one he broke through the gate before the race. He will need to race closer to the pace in the Smarty Jones but has a big chance.
8. Gray Attempt (5-2): Finished a decent fourth in his debut, won by Jack Van Berg, and has since won two in a row, most recently a sharp one-length win in the six-furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds. He should be the main pace factor in this race and if he’s not pressured is a threat to wire this field, even if he is stretching out to two turns for the first time.
9. Jack Van Berg (20-1): Moved from Emerald Downs, where he made his first two career starts, to the Midwest last fall, where he won a maiden race at Churchill by two lengths after setting the pace and then faltered in the Churchill allowance won by Super Steed, finishing fifth and beaten 9 ½ lengths. Will need a big bounce-back effort on Friday and the presence of speedy Gray Attempt does him no favors on the front end. Trained by the son of his late Hall of Fame namesake.
JOCKEY: Jon Court TRAINER: Tom Van Berg
THE PICK: Bankit
LIVE LONGSHOT: Six Shooter