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2018 Smarty Jones Stakes Picks
Smarty Jones Stakes Preview and Odds
Run at a distance of one mile in the Oaklawn dirt, the Smarty Jones awards 2018 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 basis.
Shipping in from California for trainer Bob Baffert, Mourhino has favored status for the Smarty Jones at odds of 3-2 in the morning line. Sired by 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, Mourhino won his career debut at Santa Anita in September, and since then has two runner-up finishes, the most recent in the (G3) Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar.
It's interesting to note that in both those two defeats, Mourhino was the post-time favorite. In the first, the Speakeasy Stakes, he made the lead right out of the gate but was run down in late in the stretch in the six-furlong race.
In the seven-furlong Bob Hope, he raced just off the pace but then couldn't catch front-running Greyvitos, who was 20-1 on that day and who then came back to win the Springboard Mile. Now after a 60-day layoff, Mourhino is being asked to go a mile, and those previous two efforts raise some questions as to whether he deserves to be such a heavy favorite.
Navistar Gets First Try at Stakes Racing
He's likely going to get a challenge from Navistar (5-2) who made his second lifetime start at Gulfstream Park a winning one, and who is trained by Todd Pletcher, something of a master at getting horses ready to run big off maiden wins in Florida. To get that maiden win, Navistar overcame some early bumping to get a good stalking position in a one-mile race that was fast early, slowed in the middle, and then picked up again as he took over at the top of the strectch and won driving. A similar effort here makes him a solid contender.
After having to race wide in both of his previous starts, the second of which was a runner-up finish in the Springboard, Combatant (2-1) perhaps caught a break when he drew the inside starting spot for the Smarty Jones. At the same time, he might actually be better coming from off the pace, and so it will be interesting to see if jockey Ricardo Santana will try to gun for the lead, or be content to take back on his horse and try to set him up for one big run as they turn for home.
Outside of the top three, Tap Daddy (8-1) has graded-stakes experience, having run third - but placed second with a DQ of the runner-up - in the (G3) Dixiana Boubon Stakes at Keeneland last October, a race that was originally scheduled for the turf but was moved to the dirt. Both of his lifetime wins have come on the turf, and while he is probably the most talented in the rest of the field, it may prove that turf is actually where he belongs.
The 2018 Smarty Jones Stakes goes Monday, January 15 from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It's race #8 of 9 on the Monday holiday card at Oaklawn, with an expected post time of 4:38 PM Central.
Entries w/ ML Odds
- Combatant (2-1)
- Lone Rock (12-1)
- Tap Daddy (8-1)
- Mourhino (3-2)
- Arched Feather (30-1)
- Navistar (5-2)
- Bode's Maker (30-1)
Smarty Jones Stakes Picks
- 1) #6 - Navistar
- 2) #4 - Mourhino
- 3) #1 - Combatant
- 4) #3 - Tap Daddy
Bet the Smarty Jones stakes on Monday and keep betting the entire road to the Kentucky Derby right up until the first Saturday in May including Derby future bets wagering with an account at Bovada's online racebook.
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