Mount Joy Stables’ Smooth Air, runner-up to Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Big Brown in the Florida Derby (gr. I), completed his serious work for the May 31 Ohio Derby (gr. II) with a sharp seven-furlong work at Arlington Park May 25.
The Florida-bred son of Smooth Jazz drilled the seven-eighths of a mile in 1:24 4/5, then galloped out a mile in 1:38 4/5, all to the approval of trainer Bennie Stutts Jr.
“I really like the way he’s training,” Stutts said. “I’ve never asked this horse to do anything that he hasn’t done easily. He’s so fit right now.”
Smooth Air, winner of the grade II Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park in January, will ship to Thistledown the morning of May 27. The official Ohio Derby field will be finalized at a noon post-position draw May 28.
While several trainers have yet to decide if they’ll run horses in Thistledown’s $300,000 centerpiece, the prospective field stands at eight.
Expected are Arkansas Derby (gr. II) runner-up Z Fortune; Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) third-place finisher Medjool; John Battaglia Memorial runner-up Your Round; Illinois stakes winner Instill; the Nick Zito-trained Admirality; locally based Celtic Meal, runner-up in the May 10 Tall Ships at Presque Isle Downs & Casino; and Stolen Chevy, unbeaten this year in three starts at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort.
Smooth Air wasn’t the only Ohio Derby hopeful to work May 25. Your Round drilled five furlongs at Churchill Downs in 1:01 4/5, while Admirality worked four furlongs at Saratoga in :48.
Instill worked May 24 at Fairmount Park (five furlongs in 1:00 1/5), while Celtic Meal went 1:01 4/5 for the same distance at Thistledown.