Smarty Jones Stakes Picks 2017
In a field lacking a horse with stellar credentials, bettors will be left to gauge the potential of a few lightly-raced runners who may have a major impact on the race.
2/1 favorite Uncontested has just two career starts under his belt, winning a six furlong maiden special weight race in his debut at Keeneland before finishing a distant fourth in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, five lengths behind the well-regarded McCracken.
In both starts, the Wayne Catalano trainee set the pace, and should once again find himself on the lead against a field that does not possess an abundance of early zip. Jockey Channing Hill gets the call with the pair set to break from post 6. Uncontested may have shown his affinity for the Oaklawn Park surface during a bullet workout New Year's Eve while completing five furlongs in a minute-flat from the gate - the fastest of 83 works at the distance.
Smarty Jones Betting Picks
- 1st: #6 Uncontested
- 2nd: #1 Petrov
- 3rd: #2 Warrior's Club
The bottom line in the 2017 Smarty Jones is that this field does not appear overly talented. If Uncontested gets an easy lead, everyone else could well be running for second. Petrov is a runner with some upside for trainer Ron Moquett, but will be making his first start around two turns.
Still, this colt is bred for longer distances and has demonstrated a strong closing kick in shorter races while defeating maidens handily and coming a head shy of taking the King's Swan Stakes December 3 at Aqueduct. Moquett excels at Oaklawn Park and Petrov has worked exceedingly well in preparation for this race. Petrov should be able to stalk the early fractions under jockey Junior Ortiz and reach contention by the head of the stretch in what could be a two-horse race.
Warrior's Club is experienced, but has shown a tendency to settle for minor awards, finishing second or third in 4 of 7 career starts. This runner may be a good key in the bottom rungs of trifecta or superfecta wagers.
The rest of the field
Among the other runners, Rowdy the Warrior (6/1) could be poised for a solid effort. The Donnie Von Hemel trainee has closed solidy in each of his last four starts - all at the one mile distance. This runner may have less ability than the top contenders, but holds an experience edge in two-turn races and will benefit greatly if the early fractions are contested. Unbridled Eagle (8/1) is a runner that closed 2016 in poor form, but is well-bred for a route race and did show some ability last summer at Saratoga. With the winner taking a step towards being a contender for the Kentucky Derby, all eyes will be on the Smarty Jones Stakes.
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