Mr. Z Seeks Belated Breakthrough in Smarty Jones

With five stakes placings to his credit, Mr. Z is still on the lookout for his first black-type victory. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee's first ship might come in Monday when he heads a field of nine in the $150,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park.

The winner of the one-mile Smarty Jones, a prelude to the Southwest (G3), Rebel (G2), and Arkansas Derby (G1) later in the meet, will earn 10 qualifying points as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.

Mr. Z has been involved in a pair of photo finishes recently, losing the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) by a nose in late November, and then by a head after narrowly leading most of the way in the December 20 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1). The son of Malibu Moon missed by a neck in the Sanford at Saratoga last July, and later finished second in the Saratoga Special and Breeders' Futurity.

FREE Smarty Jones PPs
Jon Court, who teamed up with the Lukas-trained champion Will Take Charge to take the 2013 Smarty Jones, has the riding assignment.

Hebbronville, who was eased in the Nashua at Aqueduct in his most recent start November 2, has the raw talent to rebound. The son of sprint star Majesticperfection kicked off his career with back-to-back wins at Parx by a combined 11 3/4 lengths, and then finished within a length of the highly-rated Blofeld in the six-furlong Futurity (G2) at Belmont.

Steve Asmussen will saddle Bayerd, who won two of Remington Park's leading juvenile stakes last fall -- the Springboard Mile and Kip Deville. In between those wins he finished second in the Clever Trevor at the same track. The Speightstown colt has won three of five overall.

Lucky Player was up the track in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) after gutting out a neck victory in the September 6 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs. The son of Lookin at Lucky was previously second in the Prairie Juvenile Mile to the returning Private Prospect, who was subsequently the Arlington-Washington Futurity runner-up and a Breeders' Cup Juvenile also-ran.

Far Right, who fell well off the pace in the Delta Downs Jackpot before making a belated rally for third, appears best of the rest. Longshots American Sailor (City Zip), Paid Admission (Candy Ride), and Runaway Bling (Too Much Bling) complete the field.