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The Smarty Jones Stakes – Oaklawn Park Hosts First Kentucky Prep In 2023

The Smarty Jones Stakes – Oaklawn Park Hosts First Kentucky Prep In 2023

by Daniel BenjaminDecember 31, 2022

The 2023 Kentucky Derby is still five months away, but the Kentucky Prep season is in full force. The Smarty Jones Stakes is the first prep race of 2023 and will take New Year’s Day at Oaklawn Park.

Oaklawn Park Hosts First Kentucky Prep In 2023 – The Smarty Jones


The 2023 Kentucky Derby is getting closer by the day. While the “The War of the Roses” is over five months away, the Kentucky Derby Prep season is in full force.

Oaklawn Park, located in Hot Springs (Ark.), hosts the first prep race of 2023 with the Smarty Jones Stakes on New Year’s Day. The Smarty Jones is a one-mile event for 3-year-old horses named after the 2004 Kentucky and Preakness winner. The inaugural event was held in 2009 though it wasn’t an official Derby qualifier until 2013.

The Smarty Jones Stakes is the season’s 11th 2023 Kentucky Derby Prep race. Therefore, the top five finishers earn points for the Derby on a 10-4-3-2-1 sliding scale. Since 2010, seven Kentucky Derby runners have raced in the Smarty Jones Stakes.


8 Horse Field

Eight freshly minted 3-year-olds will go the two-turn mile, worth $250,000, this year. The Smarty Jones Stakes is the eighth race on Oaklawn’s nine-card field, with post time set at 5:10 p.m. (ET).

Victory Formation is the morning line favorite at 6-5 and starts from the outside post. The talented colt has won both of his previous starts though Monday marks the first time he has stretched out to eight furlongs. Trainer Brad Cox doesn’t think that the distance will be a problem.

“I think he’ll be able to stretch out. He’s bred to do it. It looks like he’ll do it. He’s got a good mind. Excited about giving him an opportunity. “ – Cox said

The son of Tapwrit, the 2017 Belmont Stakes, was sold for $340,000 last spring. He will have Favien Prat in the saddle as jockey Luis Saez, who had previously ridden him, has racing commitments in Florida.

Ten Days Later is second on the morning line at 7-2. He has one win and three third-place finishes in five starts. This will be the fifth different track that Ten Days Later has raced at though the first outside of Kentucky.

Dennington, a son of Gun Runner, is the only horse in the field with graded stakes experience and has earned a point in the race for the Kentucky Derby. He garnered the tally for finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes the last time out on November 26. Dennington is a stablemate of Ten Days Late.

Communication Method is the fourth choice on the morning line at 5-1. The Bolt d’Oro colt broke his maiden the last time out after receiving Lasix for the first time. He has hit the board in all four of his starts overall.

How Did He Do That (12/1) and Angel of Empire (15/1) are other contenders. Meanwhile, Western Ghent and C. J.’s Storm are both long shots at 30/1.


Kentuck Prep Standings

Forte remains at the top of the 2022 Kentucky Derby Prep standings with 40 points. Forte is the only horse to win two prep races, capturing the Breeders Cup Futurity and the Breeders Cup Juvenile.

Curly Jack is second with 17 points, as he won the Iroquis, followed by Blazing Sevens with 16. Jace’s Road has 13 points, Instant Coffe (12), Dubyuhnell (10) and Practical Move (10) all have at least 10 points. All totaled 29 horses have at least one point.

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About The Author
Daniel Benjamin