A special Monday race card at Oaklawn Jan. 19 features the second running of the $50,000 Smarty Jones Stakes. The one-mile race will feature a talented field of 3-year olds that could stamp their ticket for a chance at the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), and maybe a shot at the Triple Crown.
The 2-1 favorite, Zayat Stable’s Professor Z, comes from the barn of Steve Asmussen. Going into the Smarty Jones, the son of Grand Slam comes off a nice allowance win at Aqueduct in his last start. He is 2-0-1 from four starts so far in his young career.
“He has been training good coming up to this race,” Asmussen said. “Every race he has improved. We were disappointed in his first start, but since then he has really come around.”
Back from suspension, Luis Quinonez will ride Professor Z, who was a $150,000 yearling purchase. He is out of the Saint Ballado mare Her Halo.
Breaking from post two will be Courtlandt Farms’ homebred Gresham, another one to consider. The son of Seeking the Gold is 2-1-1 from five starts. He won a one-mile allowance Nov. 29, his last start.
“He’s been doing fine, training good, and has learned to focus better since we added the blinkers,” commented trainer James Baker. “We hope he wins, but we are looking further down the road with him. We think he will do better going longer distances.”
Gresham, third in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) three starts back, picks up the riding services of Calvin Borel.
The field also includes D. Wayne Lukas trainee Ninth Client, who was ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Oct. 25 at Santa Anita. The son of Malibu Moon has won just one of six starts.
The featured seventh race on the Jan. 19 card has a scheduled post time of 4:33 p.m. A field of seven has been entered.