Three Takeaways from 2020 Smarty Jones

Jan 25, 2020 by James Scully/

The $150,000 Smarty Jones on Jan. 24 was the first of four Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifiers at Oaklawn Park. The Hot Springs, Arkansas venue will also offer the Southwest (G3) on Feb. 17; Rebel (G2) on March 14; and the Arkansas Derby on April 11.

Here are three takeaways from the Smarty Jones:

1 – A two-turn mile on a muddy track was no problem for Gold Street, who posted a wire-to-wire upset while stretching out in distance for the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park. The bay colt had excelled at 6-furlongs, breaking his maiden by seven lengths at Churchill Downs and posting a 3 ½-length romp in the Dec. 21 Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds, and both wins came over wet tracks. Gold Street possessed the pedigree to negotiate the one-mile trip, and he rolled to a 2 3/4-length decision.

His sire, Street Boss, is a son of Street Cry, who is responsible for 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and legendary female performers Zenyatta and Winx. Out of a mare by 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, Gold Street counts long-distance turf specialist Over Thinking as a half-sister.

2 – Gold Street took advantage of favorable circumstances in the Kentucky Derby qualifier. The off track played favorably towards speed, with seven of the nine races on the opening-day program being won in front-running fashion, and Gold Street got away with comfortable fractions while dictating the pace unopposed.

He was one of four runners for Steve Asmussen, who also finished third with Remington Springboard Mile winner Shoplifted and fourth with Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) victor Silver Prospector, and the Hall of Fame trainer noted the advantage Gold Street enjoyed.

“I think the way the racetrack’s playing today, speed-favoring, Gold Street had the most speed today,” Asmussen said. “Obviously, we still have high hopes for several of them and it does change considerably when the distances get (longer).”

3 – Not excited about Kentucky Derby chances. Gold Street ran fast in the Smarty Jones, registering a career-best 99 BRIS Speed rating (six points better than previous best), but he still has much to prove in upcoming prep races. Difficult to envision any of the Smarty Jones contestants performing at a high level at the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby distance this spring.

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