A three-year-old stakes race on a Monday? Well, there it is, as they are giving out Smarty Jones bobblehorses at Oaklawn. I’m honestly not crazy about much in here. Liberty Bull (Holy Bull) comes in off a second-place finish to Sok Sok in the six-furlong Sugar Bowl, but he wasn’t closing at the end so I have serious doubts about his making eight-furlongs here. Better prepared is Instill (Proud Citizen) who ships down from Hawthorne off an easy victory over state-breds in the 8.5 furlong Futurity. He has yet to finish out the money in six starts, but mostly that’s been against state-breds to I’ll suspend total faith in his success here. I see Jamie Sanders (bless her heart) has another hard-knocker (à la Teuflesberg) in here with Cape of Storms (Cape Town) who, after a third-place finish first out, jumped right into G3 company with disappointing results. Admittedly, he raced (and lost) to the best last year (Rated Feisty, Spanky Fishbein, Pyro, Big Truck, Monba, Icabad Crane) in 10 starts, but he started off the New Year breaking his maiden at 1 mile, and I’m going out on a limb to peg him for the upset win.
In addition to Oaklawn’s Smarty Jones Stakes, there are a half dozen interesting three-year-old races today.
In race 2 at Aqueduct, Richard Dutrow’s Double or Nothing (Double Honor) looks odds-on after four straight second-place allowance finishes since claimed at Saratoga and shifted from D. Wayne Lukas barn. One problem, though: Double or Nothing has never run beyond 6 furlongs—can he stretch out to 8.5 furlongs? I’m betting not. The dreadfully named Loaves and Dishes (Aptitude) won last out at 8.32 furlongs, but had to drop into maiden claiming company to do so. Still, not much left to choose from in this relatively-small field. Queen’s Mandate (Full Mandate) ships from Calder after claim and with two consecutive wins, but my gut says to go with Buy A Personality (Changeintheweather) who won over this track in only previous outing. His dam Personal Girl is a multiple-stakes winner and producer of several winners, including Longley who unsuccessfully prepped for last year’s Derby in the G3 Gotham, eventually won the Floor Show at Delaware for Graham Motion, and was last seen finishing mid-pack in the G1 King’s Bishop.
In race 10 at Fair Grounds, Steve Asmussen sends out maiden King’s Silver Son (Mizzen Mast) who in five starts at two just missed four times and, in his only out-of-money effort, lost only by a length. Who beat him in those starts? Try Real Appeal (fourth next-out in G2 KY Jockey Club S.), Court Vision (G2 Remsen and G3 Iroquois winner), Isabull (who’s in the Smarty Jones today) and Mr. Harry (second most-recently in the Turfway Prevue). He’s a $320,000 OBS purchase, out of a Dynaformer mare…he should be a slam dunk. However, don’t be surprised if Steve Asmussen’s Clemens (Langfuhr) gets a piece. Last June he finished well behind in The Roundhouse’s monstrous maiden victory at Monmouth. After a freshening, he came back in late December and just missed to promising sophomore Iron Works Pike. Another tempting play is Revenge Is Sweet (Vindication) whose dam Urbane is a multiple G1 winner who also produced million multiple-graded stakes winner Suave (AP Indy). Since switching from polytrack to dirt, he’s just missed twice. Still, my heart will be rooting for Unbridled Belle’s baby half-brother Stones River (Monarchos) who gets Lasix today for Larry Jones.
In race 6 at Gulfstream, Go Swiftly (Gone West) could be live. A $250,000 Keeneland purchase in November, he comes back for new connections after two month layoff, switches from turf to dirt and gets John Velazquez up for Allen Iwinski who hits 25% in first starts with trainer. Out of Danzig mare Dance Swiftly (who has already produced two stakes winners—West Coast Swing and Paiota Falls), Go Swiftly has posted regular (and long) works leading to this start, and should be ready to fire. Barclay Tagg sends out Wall Street Humor (Distorted Humor), after even longer layoff that included several bullet works; switch to Eibar Coa bodes well. Another possible contender is Jimmy Simms (Lost Soldier) in his first start for Todd Pletcher; he’s only previous race was a second place finish to Mad Flatter, most recently third in the G3 LeComte. Longshot play: Kentucky Bear (Mr. Greeley) who’s got a string of impressive works for Reade Baker (22% winners on first start).
In race 8 at Gulfstream, lots of quality runners including Pletcher’s Southern Terminus (More Than Ready) who won going away at first asking at Aqueduct in December. String of very fast works since shipping to Florida suggests he’s acclimatized, but can he stretch out to nine furlongs? Fierce Wind (Dixie Union) has already won at route distance for Nick Zito, a 10-length blowout last out, but he could get sucked into an early speed duel with Mambo Meister (King Cugat). My sentimental longshot: Stephen’s Gold (Mecke)…’nuff said.
In race 8 at Philly, Tony Dutrow sends out Brother G (Matty G) with Jeremy Rose up; he missed winning allowance race here by ½ length in December and has three strong posted works since then. Acclaimed (Vindication) was $430,000 Fasig-Tipton purchase who easily broke maiden first out at Delaware, then finished distance third after setting blazing early pace in allowance race here in November. Coming off break, he could be live. The Toddster sends Geroni (El Corredor) who failed miserably as favorite last out—can’t recommend for win here.
Finally, in race 7 at Laurel, I gotta go with [scratch that...Teresa reminded me that Hotrail ran and won at Aqueduct on Saturday] Hotrail (Smoke Glacken) who just missed at Aqueduct in December and posted a blistering bullet on January 5. He should go to the lead with Tricky Start (Jump Start). If they burn each other out, I like first-time starter Millye’s Mojave (Mojave Moon) to close for the win.