Before the potential re-emergence of some of last year’s leading juveniles and Kentucky Derby point earners early next month, the second half of January will see some fresh faces enter the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard Top 20.
The process already began Monday when Uncontested led seven rivals on a merry chase through the slop in the $150,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park. The only non-graded points prep held in the U.S., the Smarty Jones had been won by such future standouts as Flat Out, Caleb’s Posse, and Will Take Charge in its nine previous runnings.
A points scoring opportunity for the first time in its 10th running, the Smarty Jones has evolved into an important lead-in to Oaklawn’s traditional Derby prep schedule consisting of the Southwest (G3), Rebel (G2), and Arkansas Derby (G1).
Uncontested is expect to move on to the February 20 Southwest after his 5 1/4-length demolition of the Smarty Jones. Not seriously pressured in the mile test, he waltzed a single lap of the Hot Springs oval and pushed his point total to 11. He previously earned one point for a fourth-place effort in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill last November.
Also entering the Top 20 following the Smarty Jones was runner-up Petrov, who earned four points and is now listed in 18th place. He might be down to 20th, however, after this Saturday’s $200,000 Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds. The final Derby prep of the month features a field of 12 all looking to earn their first eligibility points.
As with all U.S.-based preps held through the Southwest, points will be distributed on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers.