The Oaklawn Park meet opens today in Hot Springs, Arkansas (thru May 2) and is highlighted by the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds over one mile on the dirt.
The race will offer 17 points to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1) toward starting eligibility for this year’s Kentucky Derby. The field of nine will go to gate for race eight on the nine-race card with an approximate post time of 4:52 p.m. ET.
#9, Three Technique, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 9-2
Three Technique posted back-to-back victories in a maiden special weight for his first career win on Aug. 31 at Saratoga and in an allowance optional claiming race at Aqueduct on Nov. 20. In four career starts, he is 2-2-0. Eclipse Award finalist Irad Ortiz, Jr. is in the saddle for trainer Jeremiah Englehart, so you know he comes in highly-regarded. The pick.
#6, Gold Street, Martin Garcia, 5-1
Gold Street is one of four horses entered into today’s race by trainer Steve Asmussen: No. 2 Silver Prospector (5-2), No. 5 Jungle Runner (20-1) and No. 7 Shoplifted (3-1). Like Three Technique, he has also won his last two races: a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs on Nov. 23 and the Sugar Bowl Stakes by 3 ½ lengths as the favorite at Fair Grounds on Dec. 21. Last year’s Sugar Bowl winner, Gray Attempt, also captured the Smarty Jones and Gold Street is looking to make it two straight. Martin Garcia is in the irons for Asmussen with pretty good odds I might add. Runner-up.
#7, Shoplifted, Tyler Gaffalione, 3-1
Another Asmussen-trained entrant, Shoplifted, finished seventh in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita and responded nicely in his last, a triumph by a head as the third choice in the $400,000 Remington Springboard Mile Stakes at Remington Park on Dec. 15. His closing style might suit him well here if the pace is hotly contested early. Tyler Gaffalione is aboard. Contender.
#2, Silver Prospector, Ricardo Santana, Jr., 5-2
Another Asmussen-entrant, Silver Prospector, comes into today’s race with three straight in-the-money finishes, highlighted by two victories including his last by ¾ of a length in the $300,000 Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 30 in his first graded stakes start. Ricardo Santana, Jr. returns to the mount and the morning-line favorite can be there at the end. I just prefer others. In the mix.
By Lou Monaco