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Smarty Jones Stakes History 

The Smarty Jones Stakes is named for the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. The race was inaugurated in 2008 and is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, with the respective top four finishers receiving 10-4-2-1 qualifying points towards the Kentucky Derby. The one-mile race for three-year-olds is held annually in mid-January at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and has a purse of $150,000.

The Smarty Jones Stakes also serves as a prep race for the Southwest Stakes, Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby, three other Kentucky Derby prep races held at Oaklawn Park. The Smarty Jones speed record of 1:36.32 was set in 2017 by Uncontested.

The Smarty Jones has been won by top-class horses like 2013 champion Will Take Charge and eventual 2011 Breeders’ Cup winner Caleb’s Posse.

The 2018 Smart Jones Stakes winner was Mourinho, who went wire-to-wire to beat a small field of five runners by 3 12 lengths as the 3-5 favorite. He finished fourth as the favorite his next start in the Southwest Stakes and had a record of 2-2-1 in five starts on the trail as a Kentucky Derby contender. However, three weeks later Mourinho was euthanized after suffering a severe sesamoid fracture in his front leg in a training incident at Santa Anita Park, trainer Bob Baffert announced.

The Smarty Jones Stakes is a listed stakes race and was added to Oaklawn’s Kentucky Derby prep schedule to honor Smarty Jones, who swept the Southwest Stakes, Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby in 2004 en route to winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes that year. His bid for the Triple Crown came up short by a length in the Belmont Stakes with a second-place finish to Birdstone.