A field of seven will line up in Friday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones on opening day of the Oaklawn Park meeting led by the Brad Cox trainee Caddo River.
The Smarty Jones is the first of four Road to the Kentucky Derby points races to be decided in Hot Springs this year. The race offers up 10-4-2-1 points toward entry into the Kentucky Derby.
Following the Smarty Jones, Derby points will be up for grabs in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) on Feb. 15, the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) March 13 and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 10.
The Steve Asmussen trained Cowan is the 9-5 morning line favorite for the Smarty Jones. The colt has run second in three straight stakes outings, most recently in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park.
The Brad Cox trained Caddo River is the second choice on the morning line at 5-2 but may end up the betting favorite. The colt broke his maiden by 9 ½ lengths in gate to wire fashion in his last outing at Churchill Downs going a one turn mile.
The colt is currently listed at +5000 in the latest Kentucky Derby future odds at BUSR.
Let’s head out to Oaklawn Park for Friday’s featured race of the day:
Oaklawn Park Race 8 The Smarty Jones 4:11 CT
7 Caddo River 5-2
3 Cowan 9-5
6 Moonlite Strike 4-1
4 Big Thorn 9-2
This promising colt faces winners for the first time here for the Cox barn after a very smart looking maiden win at Churchill Downs going a one turn mile. The colt took the field gate to wire, drawing away to win by 9 ½ lengths. Four runners have come out of that race to run back including fifth place finisher Kentucky Pharoah, who broke his maiden in his next start on Dec. 19 and then won the Dania Beach on Jan. 2. Two back our top pick was a game second at Belmont Park in his second career start. Three he finished ahead of have come back to break their maidens. This colt should have no problem handling two turns. He is by Hard Spun out of the stakes winner Pangburn ($338,480) who as best going long. The colt has been working sharply over the main track here since landing in Hot Springs.
The Asmussen trainee went turf to dirt last out and was a decent second in the Springboard Mile last out at Remington Park in his first start going long. His three previous starts came sprinting on turf, two back a game second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) where he was beaten ¾ of a length for the top spot. That race did not come up particularly strong, but neither did this one and he earned the top last out speed fig. The colt put in a bullet breeze over the surface here on Jan. 12. The 9-5 morning line seems light and our top pick seems more likely to end up the favorite in this spot.
This colt will travel two turns for the first time in his career here for the Joseph barn. Last out the colt was a game winner going a one turn mile beating Alw-1 optional claimers in his first start against winners. Four he beat have come back to run with a pair running second in their next starts versus Alw-1 company. The colt’s maiden win came two back in the slop in a race taken off the turf at GP West going seven furlongs. He is bred to handle more ground, by Liam’s Map out of a War Chant mare, her first foal to race. He looks as if he still may have some upside and will need it to compete with the top pair in here.
WIN: Caddo River to win at 7-5 or better.
EXACTA: 7 / 3,4,6 and 3,7 / 3,6,7