2014 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn

Oaklawn’s Smarty Jones Stakes

Smarty JonesThis Monday, January 20th, 2014 we have the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes up for consideration at Oaklawn Park. The race was named in honor of the 2004 Kentucky Derby winner, Smarty Jones who also went on to win the Preakness and ran a heartbreaking 2nd in the Belmont, just shy of becoming a Triple Crown winner. Considering what happened in his early training, Smarty Jones almost ended his career before it even really begun. In July of ’03 while training in a starting gate, he spooked, slammed his head into the top of the gate and fell over unconscious, nostrils pouring with blood! His trainer, John Servis thought the horse was dead at first, but Smarty regained consciousness. After the bleeding stopped, his head began to swell from the middle of his forehead to over his left eye. Smarty Jones had suffered a fractured skull from the incident and the bone was so badly shattered around his eye, the doctors believed they would have to remove it. Instead, the colt survived the incident, remaining in the hospital for 3 weeks and recuperating for another month, before he was up and training again. They never had to remove the eye and he began his road to the Derby.

2014 Smarty Jones

Unstoppable ColbyThis year’s Smarty Jones Stakes is the 8th race on the card at Oaklawn and will feature a field of 10 three year olds traveling 1 mile. In last year’s edition of the Smarty Jones, 3 year old Eclipse winner, Will Take Charge won by a neck as he stalked the pace. This year I think we will see the same thing. As of late, front-end speed hasn’t held that well at Oaklawn, so I belive we are looking for a mid-pack runner to get the deed done here. The morning line favorite is Coastline at 5/2. Coastline ran a disappointing 8th in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot, but he had a stumbled start and never really got going. I believe he will make a move for the front-end lead early and will have to fight off several here for the spot. For value I like Fire Starter at 5 to 1 on the ML. In his last outing, Fire Starter held the 3rd spot up until the 2nd call in a mile event, then made his move to the front and never looked back, winning by 10 lengths driving. I look for him to be up in the mix in the Smarty Jones. I actually have 2 longshots in this one that I am interested in. The first is D. Wayne Lukas’ entry, Unstoppable Colby at 20 to 1 on the morning line. Lukas got it done last year with Will Take Charge and Jon Court in the saddle, and Court gets the mount here as well. I look for a big run from this Pulpit colt. Way out in longshotsville is Denali Rahy Ruler at 30 to 1 on the ML. He didn’t fare well in the Springboard Mile at Remington, but I can overlook this race. He generally has the running style I’m looking for within this field and I think he has a good shot. Good luck everybody!




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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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