Oaklawn Park gets underway on Friday in Hot Springs, with over $10 million in stakes purses up for grabs over the 57-day meeting, with the $150,000 Smarty Jones the opening day feature with Derby points on the line.
The Smarty Jones drew a field of nine and is one of four Road to the Kentucky Derby points races during the meeting. The race is followed by the $750,000 Southwest (G2) on Feb. 17, the $1 million Rebel (G2) on March 14 and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 11.
Oaklawn Park is seeing an influx of trainers and jockeys from throughout the U.S. Among the jockeys making Hot Springs their home this year will be Southern California based Joe Talamo.
“It was a big decision,” Talamo said. “At the same time, I think there’s a lot more opportunity out here, as far as riding more and possibly winning more, hopefully. It was a hard decision, but kind of an easy one at the same time.”
Tyler Baze and Martin Garcia also will move their tack to Oaklawn Park, and west coast trainers John Sadler, Peter Miller and Phil D’Amato have sent strings of horses.
New York based trainer Jeremiah Englehart is bringing two dozen horses to Oaklawn Park, and Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey will be represented by 15 runners.
The Smarty Jones kicks things off on Friday with 10-4-2-1 Derby points at stake. Trainer Steve Asmussen will send out four of the nine runners in the field including the 5-2 morning line favorite Silver Prospector and second choice Shoplifted (3-1).
Let’s head out to Oaklawn Park for Friday’s featured race of the day:
Oaklawn Park Race 8 The Smarty Jones Post time 3:52 CT
6 Gold Street 5-1
7 Shoplifted 3-1
8 Lynn’s Map 6-1
2 Silver Prospector 5-2
This colt is one of four runners in the race that are sent out by the Asmussen barn. The colt dueled for the early lead and drew clear to win the Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds last out going six furlongs over a sloppy track. Last year’s Smarty Jones winner Gray Attempt exited the Sugar Bowl and the last three winners of this race have been on the lead. It took him four tries to break his maiden but he did run into a few talented runners including Complexified, who was third in the Buffalo Man in his last start and our top pick finished ahead of Mr. Monomoy at Keeneland and that colt was third in the Lecomte (G3) last Saturday. The Asmussen barn is 21% winners moving runners from sprint to route. Speed does well in this race as the finish line is at the 1/16th pole. Santana is sticking with Silver Prospector, which might be a better choice in the long run, but our top pick has a shot here and is going to be a better price.
The son of Into Mischief who was a $800,000 purchase, the colt is coming off a win in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park. That race has produced three of the last nine winners of this race. The Asmussen trainee showed some ability as a two-year-old, running second in the Hopeful (G1) in the slop at Saratoga last summer, then was fifth in the American Pharoah (G1) and seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). He comes in here having earned a career top speed fig and has shown an ability to go two turns. He is going to need some pace but appears capable of being a bit closer in this spot if the early pace is moderate.
Casse scratched this colt after he drew the 14 post in last Saturday’s Lecomte (G1) at Fair Grounds where he looked as if he fit. He broke his maiden two back in his second career start going a one turn mile at Churchill Downs and then was a game winner versus Alw-1 optional claimers in the slop at Fair Grounds in his two-turn debut. The $285,000 Ocala purchase is by Liam’s Map out of the stakes winner Puxa Saco ($400,575) who was best sprinting and who has dropped six other winners, top earner multiple stakes winner Exclusive Diva ($199,343), who was also best sprinting.
WIN: Gold Street to win at 4-1 or better.
EXACTA: 6,7 / 2,6,7,8
TRIFECTA: 6,7 / 2,6,7,8 / 2,6,7,8,9