Gold Street Posts Wire-to-Wire Win in Smarty Jones

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Gold Street, with Martin Garcia aboard, earned 10 qualifying points for the 2020 Kentucky Derby with an easy win in the Jan. 24 Smarty Jones Stakes. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Possessing speed and an affinity for racing on wet tracks proved a winning combination for Mike McCarty’s Gold Street in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 24 on opening day at Oaklawn Park.

Coming off consecutive victories on sloppy surfaces at Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds, the 3-year-old Street Boss colt handled a muddy strip at Oaklawn with similar aplomb. Busting out in front under California transplant rider Martin Garcia, he set a relatively uncontested pace.

With plenty left in his tank when cut loose midway on the second turn, Gold Street pulled clear from eight rivals over the final quarter-mile and scored by 2 ¾ lengths in the one-mile race at odds of 10.40-1 over 2-1 favorite Three Technique, who bid from a stalking position but couldn't challenge the winner.

In the winner’s circle. (Eclipse Sportswire)

"We can't make it rain, but he does take advantage of it when it happens," Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said.

Gold Street, who raced the mile in 1:39.63, gave Asmussen, a winner of more than 1,000 stakes races, his first victory in the Smarty Jones in its 13th running.

Two of Asmussen's other three starters also ran well, with Remington Springboard Mile Stakes winner Shoplifted finishing third and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes winner Silver Prospector rallying belatedly for fourth. Only 56-1 longshot Jungle Runner was a nonfactor for him, checking in eighth.

"Gold Street had the most speed today," said Asmussen, who believed the wet racetrack favored frontrunners. "Obviously, we still have very high hopes for several of them, and it does change considerably when the races go further."

The top four finishers earned points on a 10-4-2-1 scale toward a start in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. Derby points are used to determine preference when the 1 ¼-mile race is oversubscribed beyond its 20-horse maximum field size.

Routing was a question for Gold Street heading into the Smarty Jones – he made five starts in races at six furlongs or shorter – but he had no issues handling the added ground. He won by a large margin, just as he had in the Dec. 21 Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds in his previous start.

The distances for the remaining Derby preps at Oaklawn are longer than the Smarty Jones, which is also run over a short stretch, beginning and ending at what is customarily the sixteenth pole. The next race in the series is the $750,000 Southwest Stakes at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 17, followed by the $1 million Rebel Stakes  Mar. 14 and finishing with the $1 million Arkansas Derby at 1 1/8 miles Apr. 11.

Bred in Kentucky by Erich Brehm, Gold Street is out of the stakes-placed Fusaichi Pegasus mare Morakami. Overall, the colt improved to three wins from six starts and $225,218 in earnings.

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