The Kentucky Derby trail is starting to heat up, and Oaklawn Park hosts their first points race of 2014 on Monday when a field of 10 will head to the gate in the $150,000 Smarty Jones.
There are 17 Derby points up for grabs, 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers. The race is the first of three Road to the Kentucky Derby points races to be contested at Oaklawn Park.
The Mark Casse trained Coastline is the 5-2 morning line favorite and looking to rebound off an eighth place finish in the Delta Jackpot (G3) at Delta Downs where the colt got off to a poor start.
The Smarty Jones serves as a prep race for the $300,000 Southwest (G3) on Feb. 17 and the marquee event of the meeting, the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 12.
Last year’s winner of the Smarty Jones was Will Take Charge, who was drubbed in the Triple Crown races but recovered and had an outstanding second half of 2013, winning the Travers (G1) and Clark Handicap (G1) and just missing in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). The D. Wayne Lukas trainee won the Eclipse Award on Saturday night for top three-year-old.
The 2011 winner Caleb’s Posse went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), and 2009 winner Flat Out went on to become a multiple Grade 1 winner.
Let’s head out to Hot Springs for Monday’s featured race of the day:
Oaklawn Park Race 8 The Smarty Jones (Post time 4:38 CT)
1. D’cajun Cat 6-1
10. Coastline 5-2
6. Walt 6-1
4. Don of a Preacher 9-2
D’cajun Cat makes his second start off a six-month layoff here for the Steve Asmussen barn. The colt set the early fractions and weakened to finish third last out in the Sugar Bowl. The winner Albano came back to run second in the LeComte (G3) on Saturday at Fair Grounds.
The colt has enough pedigree to handle the stretch out to a mile, by D’wildcat out of the graded stakes winner Rabiadella ($263,450) who has dropped seven winners including stakes winners Diadella ($563,274) and Say a Novena ($328,870). The colt has worked smartly since his last outing and has good tactical speed which will come in handy in this one-mile race with a short stretch. Decent value if he goes off near his 6-1 morning line.
Coastline was my third choice in the Delta Jackpot (G3) in his last outing and he lost all chance when he stumbled coming out of the gate, made a mild middle move and faded to finish eighth. Two runners have come out of the race to win next out including Roman Unbridled, who won the Big Drama and then was fourth in the LeComte on Saturday.
This guy is the lone stakes winner in the field, taking the Street Sense two back at Churchill Downs. The runner up, third and fourth place finishers all came out of the race to win allowance or optional claimers in their next starts. The Mark Casse trainee figures to bounce back with a better start but does have to deal with the outside post and at a short price. He is out of the stakes winner Culinary ($271,680) who has dropped one other foal to race, Dattts Cool ($96,340), a winner of two of 12 starts.
Walt invades from Remington Park where he made a mild late run while wide to finish fourth in the Springboard Mile, a race that produced two of the last three runners of this race, Will Take Charge last year and Caleb’s Posse in 2011.
The colt showed speed in his first two career starts, breaking his maiden in his debut and then trouncing Alw-2L foes by 9 ¾ lengths in his first start against winners. The colt will be sitting closer to the front today which should make him a threat and he still appears to have some upside. He is in an underrated barn with Chris Hartman and his 6-1 morning line looks more than fair.
WIN: D’cajun Cat to win at 7-2 or better.
EXACTA: 1,10 / 1,4,6,10
TRIFECTA: 1,10 / 1,4,6,10 / 1,4,6,8,10
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