Pat and Roy Chapman, reviewing Kentucky breeding opportunities for Smarty Jones.

Pat and Roy Chapman, reviewing Kentucky breeding opportunities for Smarty Jones.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Shopping Smarty: Chapmans in Kentucky

Even though Smarty Jones fell just a length shy of winning the Visa Triple Crown last Saturday, the hunt for the breeding rights for the son of Elusive Quality continues. Smarty's breeder/owners, Roy and Patricia Chapman are currently visiting with Kentucky breeding operations today (Thursday) and Friday.

George Isaacs, the general manager of Bridlewood Farm near Ocala, Fla., is working as a liaison for the Chapmans and is in Kentucky making the rounds. Arthur Appleton's Bridlewood Farm was where Smarty Jones was raised and broken prior to his racing career.

"We are in town (Lexington) and are visiting several very prominent horse farms," Isaacs said late Thursday morning. "We are moving through the process of finding the absolute right home for Smarty Jones."

While Isaacs would not name names, he noted he and the Chapmans are taking meetings "morning, noon, and night."

Isaacs said they will conclude their visits on Friday and, then "we'll start going through the decision process. We're working toward that culmination. When we get through the process, we'll know what feels right."

Isaacs set no timetable for a decision on where Smarty Jones will begin his second career.

On Saturday, the Chapmans will travel to Louisville and Churchill Downs, site of Smarty Jones Kentucky Derby (gr. I) victory last May 1, where they will officially receive their Derby trophy. Trainer John Servis will also be on hand at Churchill and the Chapmans will also participate in the "Out to Pasture" fundraiser for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

Smarty Jones, out of the Smile mare, I'll Get Along, won the Preakness (gr. I) by a record 11 1/2 lengths two weeks after the Derby. He entered the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) undefeated in eight starts, but fell a length shy in stretch of the 1 1/2-miles Belmont, succumbing to the late run by Marylou Whitney Stable's Birdstone.

While the sky may have been the limit as far as his value as a sire prospect if he had become the first winner of the Triple Crown since 1978, he remains a hot commodity for Kentucky breeders. His sire, Elusive Quality was the leading first-crop sire of 2002 until the official disqualification of group II winner, Elusive City, was handed down on Jan. 15, 2003. Still, Elusive Quality ranked third by earnings, less than $60,000 behind Distorted Humor  and Awesome Again . In 2003, Elusive Quality ranked fifth by earnings among second-crop sires, but was responsible for 10 stakes winners, who won 15 stakes that year, both tops among his division.

Elusive Quality stands for $50,000 at Sheikh Maktoum's Gainsborough Farm near Versailles, Ky.