Smarty Jones up next on the Road to the Kentucky Derby

Monday’s Smarty Jones, a non-graded stakes race for three-year olds, headlines the Martin Luther King Day card on Oaklawn Park’s opening weekend.

Two of the eight horses entered are currently listed on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.

Warrior’s Club, 22nd on the list, is looking to add to his two points and if he wins he’ll move into 4th place with 12 points – two behind Practical Joke in 3rd and two ahead of Gunnevera in 5th.

The connections of Uncontested, last on the list of the top 30 with 1 point, also hope to assume the 4th spot on the list with 11, if he were to win.

The 1 mile Smarty Jones is worth 10 points to the winner and 4 points the the runner-up, and should be an easy spot for both horses to pad their points total.

Warrior’s Club, 7 to 2 in the morning line, was third beaten 5 lengths last time out in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill.

Uncontested, the 2 to 1 favorite, finished officially 4th but in a virtual tie for third with Warrior’s Club last time out after setting the pace through 6 furlongs to get beat the same 5 lengths.

Trained by Wayne Catalano, Uncontested was an easy winner in his debut at Keeneland last October and is sitting on three nice works at Oaklawn including back-to-back 5/8’s bullet moves.

Warrior’s Reward, trained by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, broke his maiden against winners in a 7 furlong restricted stakes at Churchill two back when adding blinkers for the first time. He’s had four 4 furlong works at Oaklawn in preparation for the Smarty Jones, but Lucas has a low stakes winning percentage and has already sent out 5 runners who haven’t hit the board since the meet opened on Friday.

Petrov, second choice at 5 to 2, has drawn the rail for trainer Ron Moquette who has 2 wins and 2 thirds from 5 starters at the meet since Friday.

A first out winner in his maiden opener two back at Churchill going 6 furlongs, Petrov rallied into second last time out in a 6f overnight stakes at Aqueduct. He’ll be making his first start going two turns in the Smarty Jones for local trainer Moquett who, despite his early success here on opening weekend, is 0 for 22 in stakes races on the year and is only 6% with horses going sprint to route.

WizCapper’s complete analysis and picks for the Smarty Jones

Smarty Jones Past Performances

2017 Santa Ynez Up Next for Fillies on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks

Here’s a look at the field for the G2 $200,000 Santa Ynez for 3 year-old fillies on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

The winner will earn 10 points towards a spot in the starting gate on Oaks day.

Note that the track at Santa Anita was off yesterday and we saw American Anthem and Gormley battle it out from the start as speed was favored in the slop.

The forecast is expected to be sunny and warmer today with the track drying out.

  1. Resilient Humor – 30 to 1. Broke maiden at first asking in only lifetime start at Los Alamitos a month ago. Gets new rider in Desormeaux and steps up big time for low percentage trainer and will have to improve several notches to take this one.
  2. Sandy’s Surprise – 15 to 1. Broke maiden here two back going 1 1/16 miles before a 6th place finish at Los Al in the G1 Starlet a month ago. Cuts back to 7f where she finished 2nd behind Princess Karen here in October. Gets third different rider in Gutierrez who rides first call for O’Neill. Daughter of Drosselmeyer bred to go long.
  3. Unique Bella – 8 to 5. Ten length winner last time out going 6 1/2 at Del Mar in second career start. Heavy favorite both times but 87 Beyer second best in this field. Hollendorfer trains and Smith rides ala Songbird.
  4. Carrie – 50 to 1. Blinkers go on this longshot who has been double digits in all 5 races. Broke maiden here going 4 1/2 in the summer before returning from a 6 month layoff to run 10th vs. boys on the lawn. Last two starts were no better and with 59 being her highest Beyer she’ll surely be embarrassed like Sissy Spacek in the movie of the same name. And we know what happened next.
  5. Princess Karen – 8 to 1. Winner at first asking going 7f here in only start. Smith was aboard but Bejarano will ride today 0 for 9 stake race trainer Bonde. Working good and both second and third place finishers from last came back to win and will go in here as well. But also note that both came back in defeat last time out in the G1 Starlet for O’Neill.
  6. Note and Quoted – 5 to 1. Won the G1 Chandelier here in October for Baffert who got his first win of the meet yesterday and was runner-up in the Sham with American Anthem. Returned in the BC Juvenile Fillies and was overmatched tiring to 7th after setting the pace through six furlongs. Gets new rider in Garcia who was aboard for Baffert yesterday. Three G1 efforts in a row and if you toss the BC trip her 80 Beyer makes her playable with experience.
  7. Go On Mary – 20 to 1. Aforementioned runner and stablemate to two others in here for O’Neill. Flopped in G1 Starlet at 35 to 1 off maiden score two back. Cuts back to a sprint where she should spunk but beaten by a few others in here in the past and gets new rider in Theriot who is 0 for 14 riding for O’Neill.
  8. Shane’s Girlfriend – 9 to 5. Winner of two in a row including the G3 Delta Princess by 13 the last time out off maiden score here at first asking. Owns fields highest Beyer 96. Picks up 5 lbs. off Delta win and could be any kind.
  9. It Tiz Well – 6 to 1. The other Hollendorfer trainee in here. Started career here two back and was third in a 6f sprint before breaking maiden by 10 last time out at Los Al. Adds ground today and comes in off maiden victory but with an 81 Beyer she should make a nice showing.

Santa Anita Picks

2017 Sham Stakes: Next Stop on the Road to the Derby

Ten points are up for grabs in the Sham Stakes on the Saturday card at Santa Anita.

I went back to check the past performances of the previous 10 winners of the Kentucky Derby to see if any of them had won the Sham as one of their Derby preps and found that none of them had.

Santa Anita Race #7: Grade-3 Sham, 3 year olds, 1 mile (dirt), $100K

The first thing I noticed when I started looking at the PPs for the Sham is that Baffert was 0 for 12 at the meet at the time of publishing.

Baffert trained American Anthem is Sham Stakes Favorite

About this time two years ago, Baffert had another horse on the Road to the Kentucky Derby that was making waves on the west coast as a two year old contender for the Roses.

Like American Anthem, American Pharoah had started his career at Del Mar but with different results.

‘Pharoah’ lost his opener finishing 5th in a 6 1/2 furlong MSW sprint. But note that that race was run on synthetic and he did return to win the G1 Del Mar Futurity next time out on the all-weather in the last season for that surface at Del Mar.

Of course, he went on to win his next seven races and become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

On the contrary, ‘Anthem’ broke his maiden at first asking a little over a month ago in a MSW going 6 at Del Mar.

And it’s obvious that at this point there’s no comparison between the two Baffert trained ‘American’ horses yet.

4 of last 5 Kentucky Derby Winners Prepped in California

It’s worth noting that 4 of the last 5 Derby winners began their career in California.

Two of which, I’ll Have Another (2012) and Nyquist (2016), were trained by Doug O’Neill for Reddam Racing LLC.

O’Neill has two entered for the Sham. Reddam Racing’s Blabimir (12 to 1) and Calumet Farm’s Term of Art (5 to 1).

Gormley, Second Choice in Sham Stakes

The Sham Stakes as a Derby prep hasn’t shown up on the charts of the past 5 Kentucky Derby winners. Maybe this year will be different.

Currently, Classic Empire sits atop the leader board with 30 points.

If Gormley wins he’ll add 10 points to his total which will put him in second with 20.

But if either the Baffert trainee American Anthem wins or one of the two O’Neill runners does, the 10 points will put them in a eight way tie for third.

So while the Sham may not be a major indicator of Derby readiness, ten points is ten points when you’re trying to be in the top 20 on the Derby leader board come Derby day.