Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has enjoyed tremendous success in Oaklawn Park’s classic preps since 2010, winning the Arkansas Derby (G1) twice, the Rebel (G2) five times, and the Southwest (G3) in three different years (he swept both divisions in 2012). While those races lie ahead, Baffert will get an earlier start on things in Hot Springs when he’ll be represented by Toews On Ice in Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones.
As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby’s “Prep Season,” the one-mile Smarty Jones will award points of 10-4-2-1 to the first four finishers toward Kentucky Derby (G1) eligibility.
A speedy son of Archarcharch, who ran fourth in the 2011 Smarty Jones before winning the Southwest and Arkansas Derby, Toews On Ice won three consecutive stakes in Southern California last fall, the most important being the seven-furlong Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar. However, that streak came to an end when he finished second stablemate Mor Spirit in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1).
Jinks Fires, the trainer of Archarcharch, has entered Discreetness, who was up late to post a 9-1 upset of the $250,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park by a nose December 13. That victory followed a Churchill Downs allowance score and a fourth in $81,000 Street Sense, also at the Louisville track.
Whitmore captured his debut at Churchill by more than seven lengths, but retreated late in the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) in his stakes debut in November. Trainer Ron Moquett also entered the gelding in an allowance at Oaklawn on Saturday, and might opt for that race given the size of the Smarty Jones field.
Black Ops, second to Whitmore in their mutual debut, came back to break his maiden next out by 2 3/4 lengths at Churchill. Also stepping up off maiden wins are Luna de Loco, who won at debut at Aqueduct for Steve Asmussen, and Knights Key for Steve Hobby.
Synchrony and Gordy Florida both stretch out to two turns for the first time after respective allowance wins at Churchill and Remington. Force It is also a two-time winner, but faded badly when trying stakes company in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last out.
The Smarty Jones field also includes Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) winner Shogood, who stopped badly in his dirt debut in the Street Sense, and Cutacorner, fourth as an 87-1 outsider in the Springboard Mile last time.
Oaklawn kicks off this weekend with a great lineup of races, including four stakes races across four consecutive days. In other words, they are setting up an Oaklawn Grand Slam, and TwinSpires.com is giving away 1 million points to anyone that can hit it.
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