Derby Trail Race Review: Smarty Jones

The January 15th Smarty Jones at Oaklawn was unfortunately scratched down to a field of five and it was a runaway win for Bob Baffert’s Mourinho. Todd Pletcher’s Navistar couldn’t get to Arkansas and that left Mourinho as a stand-out in this field.

Fractions: 23.33, 48.09, 1:12.27, 1:37.25
Race Flow: Very slow pace
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 99

Pace Note: The pace was very slow and obviously aided the winner. Oaklawn always does a great job stacking distance races to aid figure-makers and pace-analysis. They did the same on this day.

Race Class Fractions
Race 4 3 yo Md 30k 22.78 46.55 1:11.98 1:40.32
Race 6 4/up Str 16k 23.07 47.02 1:12.34 1:39.20
Race 7 3 yo F OCn1x 23.20 47.79 1:13.16 1:39.51
Race 8 Smarty Jones 23.33 48.09 1:12.27 1:37.25

The fractions Mourinho set were the slowest quarter-mile and half-mile fraction of the four one-mile races on the card that day. Plus, the six-furlong time for Mourinho was slower than a $30k maiden-claimer that finished 3.07 seconds slower than the Smarty Jones, and almost identical (.07 faster) than a $16k starter allowance race that finished 1.95 seconds slower than the Smarty Jones.

On the WinnerMourinho is a very nice horse but was helped by the scratch of Navistar, which left him alone on the lead. The pace was not fast and that left Mourinho to his own devices up front. The result? A comfortable win with a 99 Beyer Speed Figure. That said, we’ll see where he ends up for his next start but you are almost obligated to play against him (pending the hopeful insertion of another speed horse or two) as he will never get a better set-up than he got in here.

On The OthersCombatant, who was second in the Springboard Mile before this race, ran very well. He was game running down the lane after the winner and while he saved ground the whole way, he was up against the pace scenario and race flow. He ran very well. Tap Daddy was used early to chase the winner and then had nothing. He’s 2-2 on the grass and might end up back there this spring. Arched Feather and Bode’s Maker were just overmatched against Mourinho and Combatant and then further up against things considering they were well back off the slow pace.

What’s Next (Oaklawn): Oaklawn runs the Southwest Stakes on President’s Day, February 19th. I’d imagine Combatant will definitely show up there, and if he does, he’ll get another crack at Mourinho.

What’s Next (Derby Trail): We’ll have reviews up this week of the three Saturday Derby preps: the Lewis from Santa Anita, the Withers from Aqueduct, and the Holy Bull from Gulfstream. This week, they’ll run the Sam Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. Then the Risen Star at Fair Grounds comes up on the 17th with the Southwest on the 19th.

Dale Romans scratched Hollywood Star out of Saturday’s Holy Bull and he’ll be running in the Davis on Saturday. The race will be headed by Catholic Boy, who makes his three-year old debut after winning the Remsen with a 91 Beyer.

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