The $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes, the first step on Arkansas’ road to the Kentucky Derby, takes place this Friday at Oaklawn Park. The opening day feature at the Hot Springs oval drew a field of nine. The three-year-olds colts will be tasked with a one-mile trip in the Smarty Jones, which goes as the eighth of nine races. Estimated post time is 4:52 p.m. ET.
#2 SILVER PROSPECTOR (5-2, morning-line favorite) is the class of this group following his Grade II triumph in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs last November. This Steve Asmussen trainee hasn’t failed to hit the board since switching to the turf three starts ago. Ricardo Santana Jr. maintains the assignment on the versatile SILVER PROSPECTOR; he can lay close to the pace or rally from behind if necessary and doesn’t mind moisture in the ground. The son of Declaration of War looks like a solid wager as the morning-line favorite.
#6 GOLD STREET (5-1) was last seen romping in the Sugar Bowl Stakes at the Fair Grounds in late December. This stablemate of the top choice has yet to race beyond six furlongs but his pedigree doesn’t suggest that the one-mile trip in the Smarty Jones will be too far. Any residual rain leftover from mid-week storms should only help GOLD STREET’s chances. Martin Garcia has the call.
#9 THREE TECHNIQUE (9-2) needed a couple of starts to figure things out at age two but has blossomed smartly under trainer Jeremiah Englehart’s care, winning two straight races by open lengths. He’ll make his stakes and route debut in the Smarty Jones but bettors toss this talented son of Mr Speaker at their own peril. Irad Ortiz Jr. will make the trip over from Gulfstream for the assignment.
#8 LYNN’S MAP (6-1) scratched out of last week’s Lecomte Stakes for this. He earned two hard-fought victories in his last two outings for trainer Mark Casse. LYNN’S MAP has proven himself over wet and dry ground at today’s distance and lures Miguel Mena.
The play: $3 exacta 2/6,9, $2 exacta 2/8, $1 exacta 6,9/2 ($10)
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