Two former jockeys who traveled to Belmont Park for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) are fast becoming the talk of Philadelphia Park and quite popular with some members of the general public in the Delaware Valley, thanks to "The Legend of Smarty Jones."
"The Legend of Smarty Jones" is a song written by Rocco Gabriella and Bobby Martel, both of whom used to ride at Philly Park. The CD was recorded at Skylab Studios in Roosevelt, N.J., and currently is getting play on local radio stations given all the Smarty Jones hype.
Gabriella, who retired from riding in 1986 and currently serves as the clerk of scales at Philly Park, was a member of four-piece band when he was a jockey. He continues to perform, mainly for groups, parties, and picnics at the Bensalem, Pa., track.
Gabriella said "The Legend of Smarty Jones," which has a country feel to it, was one of 40 songs sent to Roy and Patricia Chapman, the owners of Smarty Jones, for review. They selected it and gave Gabriella and friends approval to market the CD, from which a percentage of sales go toward the backstretch fund at Philly Park.
The song was written after the May 1 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and updated with a new verse after the May 15 Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Smarty Jones, his connections, and his story provided the inspiration.
"We just started banging on the desk in the race office," Martel said. "People would come in and say, 'We love it. We love it.' "
Martel was the executive producer of the song. Gabriella provides the vocals, with backup vocals by Dana Fuccello and Martel. Guitarists are Steve Carlini and Lou Ballezzi, with Anthony Cannuli on bass, Pete Graber on harmonica, and Richard Wisniewski on drums.
"We'd really like to thank everyone in the band," Martel said. "Richie (Wisniewski) is the one who set everything up for us."
The "band" has no name. "We all just met in the studio and went ahead and did it," Gabriella said. "We went through the whole open-mike thing. We've gotten e-mails from all over the country. It really has been something."
"It's not about making money," Martel said. "It's about how much fun we're all having (with Smarty Jones). We know all the players, and we were able to write a song about it."
Gabriella and Martel said they planned to watch the Belmont Stakes, and the bid by Smarty Jones to win the Visa Triple Crown Challenge, with the Chapmans.