Call Me <i>Mister</i> Jones

By Mike "Cheap Speed" Pearson

The grade II Arkansas Derby runs this Saturday at Oaklawn. SMARTY JONES will win and up his record to six for six. He will win by multiple lengths. His time for the 1 1/8 mile race will be under 1:49, and he will quiet all doubts as to his status as a serious Derby contender.

He's done everything that's been asked of him in impressive fashion. He won the Penn Nursery in his second asking by 15 lengths, and he won the Count Fleet in the fastest time in 21 years after stumbling from the gate. In his last outing, he won the Rebel in the fastest time since Demons Begone in 1987.

Can he go further? He was getting stronger throughout the Rebel. No graded winnings until Saturday--just one really good race after another. And he is still improving.

The two main contenders to Mr. Jones appear to be BORREGO and PURGE. BORREGO came eight wide to finish second to Wimbledon in the Grade II Louisiana Derby and missed by one length to Master David in the Sham Stakes. PURGE, beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Smarty in the Rebel, ran gamely in only his third start and his first beyond six furlongs. He has every right to improve. I give a short edge to BORREGO on experience.

Mike's Picks:

1. SMARTY JONES (Mister JONES to you)