Weather and Rain Only Factors to Slow Uncontested in Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn
The holiday card at Oaklawn Park Monday features the Smarty Jones Stakes. The 1-mile race is Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby preps highlighted by the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15. The Smarty Jones offers 17 points toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby, including 10 to the winner. The favorite and one to catch is Uncontested, who just missed Keeneland’s 6 ½ furlong track record in a front-running six-length career debut victory Oct. 19.
Uncontested possesses a ton of natural speed, and he carried it through six furlongs from the outside post in his second start Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs in the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). Unfortunately, he couldn’t hold up down the stretch in that 1 1/16 mile race, and another Smarty Jones entrant Warrior’s Club finished just in front of him in 3rd.
Uncontested has recorded two bullet workouts at Oaklawn in advance of the Smarty Jones, including a 5-furlong move in 1:01 on Jan. 10. He’s training well and expected to improve.
“He’s made some good strides, even from when he broke his maiden until now,” said jockey Channing Hill, the son-in-law to Uncontested’s trainer Wayne Catalano.
The one thing that could take the traction out of Uncontested is Monday’s weather, which shows a 90% chance of rain and potential severe storms. But Uncontested will be the one out front kicking mud in the trailing horse’s faces, and the short stretch in the 1-mile races at Oaklawn will make it tough for trailers to catch Uncontested. As long as Hill can get the colt to settle in, he should make the muddy track his playground in the 10th running of the Smarty Jones Stakes.