Full Field of Derby Hopefuls Looks to Keep Dreams Alive in The Smarty Jones

The Smarty Jones

OP Race 1 1m Dirt Stake

Purse $150.000 For  

Three Year Olds

A well-matched group goes to the post trying to secure some early Derby points at Oaklawn Park. This race starts very close to the first turn making it even tougher for the horses drawn wide, so it will make for some interesting instruction decisions. Now let’s take a look at the field.


1 Performance Artist, trained by Estero Farms

Purchased for $150.000 after his last race which was a victory in a state bred stake at todays distance. Seems to be improving with every race and works are right in line with the rest of the field. 9% jock will have to decide whether to press the pace and risk being caught up in quick fractions or dropping back and risk being blocked. One of several that will have to carry 2 extra pounds which we know is a larger issue then it should be. Would not be a major surprise if he pulled off the upset but not the top choice.

2 Splash Mountain, trained by Smokey Stover

Winner of 3 out of 6 lifetime races including 2 at todays distance. Finished a fast closing 3rd last out while being caught wide for a large part of the race. Last public work was a month ago so hard to get a read on whether he has improved since his last race. Seems like a major contender with a good trip.

3 Babalu Time, trained by Night Rider Stables

Coming out of the same race as Splash Mountain where he dropped back to last, saved ground and ran into some traffic before finishing 9th. That was his first effort around two turns and his conform strongly suggests he prefers sprinting. Speed ratings are a notch below most in here and no works longer than 6F. I have a tough time figuring this one for a check.

4 Free Sunset, trained by Team 7 Illusions

First of 2 entries from T7 is a filly trying her hand against the boys. She has only found the winners circle once in seven tries but has been running consistently in grade one races and is the second highest earner in the field. Only getting 3 pounds from about half the field due to her one win being a state bred stake race. She seems to do her best running on or near the lead and may be used as a pacesetter for her stablemate who has drawn the far outside.

5 Sun Tzu, trained by Barcelona Farms

This guy has changed hands a couple of times selling for $85 in the September auction and after a strong 2nd in a grade 3 he was sold to his current owner for $155.000. He followed that race up with a 3rd in a state bred stakes race where he earned a second consecutive 94 SRF. Seems poised to get a good trip and if he has improved over the last two months can be a major player.

6 Dastardly Havoc, trained by Mb Stables

The first of two entries from the resident powerhouse stable is probably the stronger half of the entry. Ran a game 4th in the grade 1 Frontrunner while still a maiden where he set the pace from an outside post and was caught near the wire. Most recently he was 4th again in the Remsen which was contested at a mile and a furlong. Here he cuts back to a mile which may be a better distance for him and he prepped for this with a very fast 6F work. Will be one of the favorites and I expect him to land a piece of the purse.

7 All Recorded, trained by Allinthegate

This guy seems to have found another gear since being gelded back in November. In his only race since he was an easy winner in a state bred stake earning a 95 SRF in the process. His works have also improved, and he is coming into this in top form. This will be his first time stretching out to a mile but there is nothing that indicates he will have a problem with the added distance. He will be one of the entrants carrying an extra two pounds and that may be the difference between a win and a minor award.

8 Tallmadge, trained by Oquinn Farm

Purchased for $200.000, he ran a game race in the DED Jackpot closing for 3rd on a track that was favoring speed. Draws one of the few 10% jocks in the race so may be able to avoid getting caught too wide. Conform suggests he may prefer sprinting but works indicate he should be able to get the mile. My pick to get to the wire first.

9 Ananas Al Cioccolato, trained by Sc Lanciano

Winner of two in a row since being gelded and adding the shadow roll both 6-furlong overnight stakes races. This will be his first attempt at two turns and a mile would seem to be stretching him to the limit. Just seems to be a notch below some of the others in here and combined with the post and the two extra pounds I will look in another direction.

10 Platinum Square, trained by Mb Stables

Entry number two for Mb was an astute $6 claim back in August. This horse had some buzz around him due to his pre-race works but the previous owner was unable to get him to run to those works and dropped him into the claimer. Gelded and with new adds he ran a respectable 3rd in a N1X and followed that up with a win at today’s distance. While he does seem to still be improving I am not sure he is ready for this level of competition and the post position will not help.

11 Badge, trained by D J C Racing Stables

Has only been able to cross the finish line first once is seven starts but never embarrasses himself.  In his last outing he got a very good trip and was flat late but that was a grade 1 race, so the competition will be softer today. This stable usually has his ready to run come race day so would not be a total shock if he pulled the upset but others seem to make more sense to me.

12 No Chill, trained by Team 7 Illusions

The second entry from T7 is the high earner in the field having won three of six starts. Has been given two and a half months off and his works seem to have gotten a bit faster. Lands one of the top jocks in the race and he will need to work some magic from out here to give him a chance. He seems to do his best running a few lengths from the lead so will be interesting to see if he can get position and avoid the outside push. Would be my choice from a better post but may be asking too much.


This seems to be a very evenly contested race and with almost half the field carrying an extra two pounds it makes it difficult to handicap. As is usually the case here at HRP working out a good trip will be paramount to success and I am thinking Tallmadge can get the job done here.


Categories: NG Stakes, STAKES ARTICLES

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