Tipsheet: 2023 Smarty Jones Stakes

December 31st, 2022

An octet of newly turned three-year-olds will travel a two-turn mile at Oaklawn Park in Sunday’s $250,000 Smarty Jones S. The 2023 Road to the Kentucky Derby challenge series tilt will reward the top-five finishers with points on a 10-4-3-2-1 structure.

Smarty Jones Stakes Picks

  • #8 Victory Formation
  • #5 Ten Days Later
  • #3 Communication Memo
  • #6 Denington

Smarty Jones Stakes Wagers

  • $20 win and place #8 Victory Formation
  • $10 exacta key 8 with 3,5
  • $.50-cent superfecta 8 with 3,5,6 with 3,5,6 with all

Smarty Jones Stakes Contenders

#1 C. J’S STORM (30-1) was outrun in the Advent S. on the course most recently but will run longer for this test. John Haran pupil looks a bit overmatched at this stage of his development, and the Indiana-bred would be a major surprise to me.

#2 HOW DID HE DO THAT (12-1) is the first of two Asmussen contenders in the field. Good Magic colt earned his first black-type victory at Zia Park two back and exits a decent try in the stakes ranks at Oaklawn last time out. The chestnut will try a route of ground for the initial time and could be an exotics contender on the stretch out with Castillo taking the reins.

#3 COMMUNICATION MEMO (5-1) graduated on the oval and at the distance in his latest showing. Consistent son of Bolt d’Oro has won or placed in each of his career tries to date, and the colt has also shown improvement since adding blinkers two starts back. Kentucky-bred three-year-old has some early speed and rates a winning chance under Ricardo Santana Jr.

#4 WESTERN GHENT (30-1) checked in last in a pair of recent graded tries going long and will need a huge step forward to make noise in this spot. D. Wayne Lukas pupil will show some early interest with Christian Torres up, but I can’t endorse him in his current form cycle.

#5 TEN DAYS LATER (7-2) comes off a solid third-place allowance result at Churchill Downs for conditioner Kenny McPeek. The $80,000 son of Collected will surely be fit following a trio of dirt route attempts in advance of Sunday, and I fancy his chances to be a dangerous commodity inside the final furlong at a fair price. David Cabrera inherits the mount atop the threat.

#6 DENINGTON (4-1) finished just 1 1/2 lengths back in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) in his latest performance for McPeek. Gun Runner colt has registered triple-digit Brisnet Late Pace numbers in two straight and will be doing his best work in the stretch while making his local bow. The gray picks up pilot Francisco Arrieta.

#7 ANGEL OF EMPIRE (15-1) has captured both of his dirt races to date for trainer Brad Cox. Classic Empire sophomore has shown some improvement from a trio of career outings to start his career, and the Keystone State-bred has some appeal as an exotics contender with another move in the right direction.

#8 VICTORY FORMATION (6-5) rolled home to a facile debut win at Keeneland prior to showing heart in defeating allowance foes beneath the Twin Spires most recently. The second from the Brad Cox shedrow is bred to thrive going long, and the $340,000 son of Tapwrit looms large with anything resembling his first pair of performances. Speedy bay will be forcing the pace from the opening bell under new rider Flavien Prat.