There's Liberty Bull and Isabull, both colts by the the 1994 Horse of the Year, in the Smarty Jones line-up, as well as Yes It's Bull, who is out of the Holy Bull mare Heart of the Bull. All have decent shots in the one-mile main track test where the emphasis is firmly on potential.
The connections for the Smarty Jones contestants are hoping their charges show enough here to continue with the remainder of the Oaklawn series for sophomores -- the Southwest (Feb. 18), the grade III Rebel (March 15) and the grade II Arkansas Derby (April 12). The one-mile main track test is named for the most popular horse to run at Oaklawn, Smarty Jones, who swept the series in 2004 on his way to winning the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) in undefeated style.
Liberty Bull is fresh from a runner-up showing in the Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds and is the 4-1 second choice on the early line. Tom Amoss trains the gray for Kenneth Maier. Liberty Bull has a maiden win and two seconds in three lifetime outings. Eusebio Razo Jr. takes the call.
Isabull, trained by Steve Hobby for Alex and Joann Lieblong, returns to action after nearly three months away. The bay, 6-1 on the morning line, faded to sixth after pressing the pace in his last start, a one-mile allowance race at Churchill Down. Isabull, who must overcome the far outside post position, was an impressive maiden winner on the Arlington Park Polytrack Sept.1.
Unstable's Yes It's a Bull, also 6-1 for trainer Lorna M. Perkins, was not disgraced while running fifth, beaten less than two lengths, in Woodbine's 1 1/16-mile Display Stakes Nov. 24. All four of the gray Yes It's True colt's races have come on the Woodbine Polytrack.
Poni Colada, a son of Volponi trained by Steve Asmussen, is the 5-2 morning line favorite. Poni Colada has not been out since drawing away for a three-length win in Zia Park's Eddy County Stakes Nov. 23. Owned by Bob Zollars and Mark Wagner, the chestnut colt ran ninth in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) two months earlier.
Luis Quinonez, whose only previous ride on Poni Colada produced a debut maiden win at Lone Star Park in July, is reunited with the colt here. Poni Colada has two wins and a second in five starts.
Like the early favorite, the Illinois-bred Instill (5-1) comes off a blow-out tally by five lengths over state breds in the Hawthorne Futurity five weeks ago. The Proud Citizen colt, trained by John C. Wainwright for Sharon Morgan, has met open company twice and ran second each time. Instill has not been out of the money in six starts.
Rich Young Ruler, to be ridden by Dylan Williams, won his debut over maidens Dec. 20 going one mile, seventy yards at Sam Houston. The Victory Gallop colt, trained by Thomas Daughn for owner Greg Norman, had his debut delayed by shin problems.
Other last-out maiden winners in the Smarty Jones are Cape of Storms and Gallantprospect.
The Arkansas-bred Jeri Harper won the Razorback Futurity at Louisiana Downs in October and was most recently fifth in the Eddy County, five lengths behind Poni Colada.
$50,000 Smarty Jones Stakes (Race 8, 4:38 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, ML Odds
1. Rich Young Ruler (FL), 114, Dylan R. Williams, 30/1
2. Poni Colada (KY), 119, Luis S. Quinonez, 5/2
3. Yes It's Bull (FL), 114, Jerry Baird, 6/1
4. Instill (IL), 119, Christopher A. Emigh, 5/1
5. Liberty Bull (KY), 114, Eusebio Razo, Jr., 4/1
6. Cape of Storms (NY), 114, Victor Lebron, 20/1
7. Jeri Harper (AR), 119, Beverly Burress, 12/1
8. General Lake (FL), 114, Bryan McNeil, 20/1
9. Gallantprospect (FL), 114, Calvin H. Borel, 12/1
10. Saratoga Seven (KY), 114, Terry J. Thompson, 12/1
11. Palmerstown (ON), 117, M. Clifton Berry, 10/1
12. Isabull (KY), 114, Timothy T. Doocy, 6/1