SMARTY JONES KICKS OFF OAKLAWN OPENING
The fine meet in Hot Springs, Arkansas gets underway this Friday, and runs through April 14, the biggest day of the meeting. This beloved Midwest meeting is known for drawing massive crowds, and we expect no different in 2012.
A total of 10 graded races will be held at this venue, with the April 14, $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) topping the list. The Derby caps a superb series for sophomores at this meeting, with the $$500,000 Rebel S. (G2) on March 17 and the $250,000 Southwest S. (G3) on February 20 preceding it.
Other big events here are the $500,000 Apple Blossom H. (G1) on April 13, $300,000 Fantasy S. (G2) on April 11 and the $350,000 Oaklawn H. (G2) on closing day.
The opening weekend headliner is the $100,000 Smarty Jones S. for newly turned sophomores on Monday. This event is often a steppingstone for the three-year-old series of graded events starting in February and has produced some good ones in recent years. On Fire Baby, who bagged the Golden Rod S. (G2) last out, might attempt the boys in this one for Gary Hartlage. The very talented sophomore daughter of Smoke Glacken has proven her worth against her own kind and could be embarking on a big year with a positive showing in this one.
The $50,000 Dixie Belle S. will be run on Saturday, with Friday’s feature being the $75,000 Fifth Season S.