Uncontested Will Wire Monday’s Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn
The Smarty Jones Stakes is set for Monday at Oaklawn Park, and the MLK holiday race has drawn a field of 8 for $150,000 purse. Uncontested is the 2-1 favorite and looks uncatchable, while the top 2 challengers on the morning line break from the inside with Petrov (5/2) on the rail and Warriors Club (7/2) on his outside. Rowdy the Warrior (6/1) and Unbridled Eagle (8/1) are additional challengers who will need a fast pace to have any chance to catch the favorite.
The 10th running of the Smarty Jones is a 1 mile prep race for the Arkansas Derby April 15 at Oaklawn, with winners expected to move on to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Uncontested is one of three runners from the Nov. 26 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), and he led that race through a blistering quarter and into the far turn before fading to fourth. He broke from the far outside post that day, and jockey Channing Hill should be able to ration his speed and energy better out front this time. Uncontested possesses a great deal of natural speed, and will be the one to catch again. Warriors Club chased the early pace and finished a head in front of Uncontested in the Kentucky Jockey Club, while Romeo O Romeo (12-1 finished last in the 12 horse field.
Petrov comes out of the weaker 3-year-old sprint division in New York. Like the favorite Uncontested, Petrov is 1-for-2 and now stretches out. He did work a strong 4 furlongs Jan. 11 at Oaklawn breezing in 48.20 which was fourth fastest of 121 runners that day.
Warriors Club is a D. Wayne Lukas trainee who has made 7 starts with a 1-1-3 record. He’s continued to improve and showed more in his first stakes try in the Kentucky Jockey Club. He won a minor stakes at Churchill to break his maiden, and the horse he beat was well regarded Cool Arrow, who came back to win while beating Rowdy the Warrior and Cu Rahy, who is in here at 15-1. That race was very slow, and Rowdy the Warrior would benefit from a very fast pace.
Unfortunately for all challengers, Uncontested is not likely to give up the lead in this race. He looks primed to carry out his speed and utilize Oaklawn’s short stretch in this 1-mile race. Jockey Channing Hill should be able to ration out his speed and carry it through to the finish with expected improvement.
The Smarty Jones Stakes is Race 8 at Oaklawn Park on Monday, Jan. 16. The 1 mile race is set for post at 4:38 pm ET.