OAKLAWN RINGS IN NEW YEAR WITH 14-HORSE SMARTY JONES
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jennifer Hoyt, Director of Racing
email@example.com or 501-363-4305
Photo Credit: Coady Photography
OAKLAWN RINGS IN NEW YEAR WITH 14-HORSE SMARTY JONES
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Friday, Dec. 31, 2021) – All North American-born Thoroughbreds have recognized birthdates of Jan 1. At least one will have something else to celebrate Saturday when Oaklawn rings in the new year with the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds.
Probable post time for the Smarty Jones, which goes as the ninth of 10 races, is 4:13 p.m. (Central). First post is 12:30 p.m.
The Smarty Jones is Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby points races, with 17 up for grabs to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1, respectively). Normally run in mid to late January, the 1-mile Smarty Jones was moved up in conjunction with Oaklawn’s expanded racing calendar and earliest opening (Dec. 3) in its 117-year history.
Inaugurated in 2008, the Smarty Jones drew a record 98 nominees this year. If the 14-horse field remains intact, it will be the largest in race history, eclipsing 12 starters in 2008, 2010 and 2012. The Smarty Jones purse was boosted to a record $250,000 after previously being worth $150,000.
The projected 14-horse Smarty Jones field from the rail out: Dash Attack, David Cohen to ride, 117 pounds, 12-1 on the morning line; All in Sync, Ricardo Santana Jr., 117, 8-1; Home Brew, Florent Geroux, 119, 3-1; Kavod, Francisco Arrieta, 119, 5-1; Ignitis, Luis Contreras, 117, 15-1; Bureau, David Cabrera, 117, 12-1; Ruggs, Julien Leparoux, 117, 10-1; Vivar, Martin Garcia, 119, 8-1; Don’tcrossthedevil, Lane Luzzi, 117, 10-1; Barber Road, Reylu Gutierrez, 117, 4-1; Cairama, Geovanni Franco, 117, 8-1; Cool Papa G, Ramon Vazquez, 117, 6-1; Immoral, Tiago Pereira, 117, 20-1; and Ben Diesel, Jon Court, 117, 5-1.
Oaklawn’s totalisator system can accommodate 14 wagering interests after an upgrade for the 2017 meeting.
Home Brew and Vivar were among 14 horses 2020 Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox nominated to the Smarty Jones. Vivar finished sixth in the $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs for Cox and breeder/owner John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs, who teamed to win the 2021 Smarty Jones with Caddo River. Home Brew, in his two-turn debut, was a Dec. 4 entry-level allowance winner at Oaklawn.
“Good spot, big field,” Cox said. “I think they’re both horses that probably want a little bit more than a mile. But given they’ve already won the first-level allowance, there’s really not a lot of options out there and this is probably going to give us a pretty good line on if they’re going to be horses that are going to compete in the 3-year-old stakes division here at Oaklawn throughout the winter.”
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen nominated 21 horses to the Smarty Jones and entered three – All in Sync, Cairama and Cool Papa G. Another Kentucky Jockey Club starter who figures to generate support is Ben Diesel for trainer Dallas Stewart and breeder/owner Willis Horton of Marshall, Ark.
Ben Diesel, in his stakes debut, finished fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club after winning his Oct. 31 career debut at Churchill Downs. Both races were 1 1/16 miles. Ben Diesel, a son of 2013 Smarty Jones winner Will Take Charge, cuts back to a mile and will have to overcome an extreme outside post position Saturday. Mile races at Oaklawn begin and end at the sixteenth pole.
“You never know,” Stewart said. “Outside (post 14), listen, at least we won’t get buried down in there. He’s just got to break, which he does break good, generally, and he could be in command of the race. He hopefully won’t get in any trouble. If he’s a little bit wide in the first turn, we’ll just have to deal with that. But he’s a good, fit colt and he’s run two races that have been over a distance of ground, so fitness shouldn’t be a problem.”
Barber Road, Cool Papa G and Ignitis finished 2-3-6, respectively, in the $200,000 Lively Shively Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs. Lively Shively winner Tejano Twist returned to run second in the $100,000 Gun Runner Stakes at 1 1/16 miles last Sunday at Fair Grounds.
“It’s exciting, first of all, to be part of some Kentucky Derby point races, with a live shot,” too,” said John Ortiz, who trains Barber Road. “The horse, he’s 4-1, but he’s live. We’re just happy to be part of this process so far.”
The versatile Barber Road broke his maiden at 1 1/16 miles and also won at 6 ½ furlongs. He has led or pressed the early pace in his last three starts.
“We drew the outside and we’re going to run in a short stretch,” Ortiz said. “We have tactical speed, especially coming out of the two sprint races. I think we’re going to be very forwardly placed and I think being on the outside we’ll be able to dictate where we want to be, whether we want to be pushing, pressuring or be the controlling speed. That will be Reylu’s decision. Once those gates open, it’s whatever the horse and Reylu want to do.”
Dash Attack was a career debut winner at 1 mile Dec. 5 at Oaklawn for trainer Kenny McPeek. Kavod, Cairama and Ruggs were 1-3-4, respectively, in the $150,000 Advent Stakes Dec. 3. The 6-furlong Advent was Oaklawn’s first stakes race for 2-year-olds since 1973.
Ruggs adds blinkers Saturday for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs, who also entered Bureau in the Smarty Jones.
None of the 14 Smarty Jones entrants will be racing on Lasix. Qualifying points are only awarded to horses who don’t use the anti-bleeder medication on race days in Road to the Kentucky Derby races.
Oaklawn’s Kentucky Derby points series continues with the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 29, $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 26 and the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles April 2.