The $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes gets Oaklawn’s road to the Kentucky Derby started on Monday. The one-mile heat drew a field of seven colts. The Smarty Jones is worth 17 total Derby points (10 to first down to 1 for fourth). Going as Race 8 on a nine-race program, post time is estimated for 5:38 p.m. EST. This race also carries implications for FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game, so study carefully!
#1 COMBATANT (2-1) has faced full fields in all three career starts, including last month’s Springboard Mile at Remington Park. He was bet down to favoritism that day but couldn’t best Greyvitos, who jumped to the top of some Derby leaderboards before it was announced he came out of the race with an injury. COMBATANT is fast enough to win this, sheds weight and keeps Ricardo Santana Jr. in the saddle. It also helps that he simply has fewer rivals to face today.
#6 NAVISTAR (5-2) lures John Velazquez for the ever-dangerous Todd Pletcher. They teamed up for NAVISTAR’s 1 1/2-length maiden win at Gulfstream Park earlier in the meet. With just two starts under his belt, NAVISTAR is the lightest-raced horse in the field, so he could have upside. He’s been working better than ever for the Smarty Jones.
#4 MOURINHO (3-2, morning-line favorite), like the top pick, was beaten by Greyvitos last time out. That was in the seven-furlong Bob Hope Stakes; MOURINHO will be asked to go one furlong further than he ever has in Monday’s Smarty Jones. While speed figures declare him as the one to beat, he has demonstrated distance limitations in his last two starts. However, MOURINHO might prevail in this short field if left unchecked early. Drayden Van Dyke will likely send this Bob Baffert trainee to the front from the start.
The play: $5 exacta 1/4,6 ($10)
DFJ analysis: Gary Stevens is named on six horses on Monday, several of which are live. He’ll be on morning-line favorite Sassy Siena in Race 7 and has four other mounts priced at 8-1 or below. Stevens has a mount in the Smarty Jones (#2 LONE ROCK), but it’s unlikely he’ll hit the board.
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