Stakes racing action for 3-year-old thoroughbreds on the Kentucky Derby trail continues Monday with the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Santa Anita will feature the San Pedro Stakes and Aqueduct hosts the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes.
Grant Jack heads a field of seven juveniles as the 2-1 morning line favorite of the $100,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Grant Jack has only been off the board once in six starts and he comes into the race with a win in the Springboard Mile Stakes on December 11 at Remington Park. Grant Jack stalked in third-place the entire trip until making his bid going three-wide at the top of the stretch to rally for the one-length victory.
A sharp work out December 29 at Oaklawn and Grant Jack should be ready to run another good race.
A long shot I like is Bonaroo who is 12-1 on the morning line.
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Bonaroo is still a maiden, has not raced for more than two months, and is stepping up into stakes action for the first time. However, his second-place finish in a 9-furlong race at Keeneland last October was better than what appears on paper.
Bonaroo broke sharply from post seven to take the early led in the 12-horse field and led going into the stretch where Animal Kingdom, a horse I believe has a lot of potential (see December 23 blog), took the lead to win by 3 ¼ - lengths in a final time of 1:49.01.
Bonaroo’s time for the mile split was 1:36.80 and that is in the ballpark where I like to see potential Derby prospects run a mile. And I like it that Bonaroo is cutting back in this race to a mile where I think he will be very competitive.
A sharp bullet work out at Oaklawn on December 31 and Lukas may have Bonaroo primed to run a good race and upset at a nice price.
Rounding out my selections, Archarcharch is a fast improving colt who comes into the race with a 1 ¾ - length win in the 6-furlong Sugarbowl Stakes at the Fair Grounds on December 18.
The 96 Brisnet Speed Figure Archarcharch earned for that race is one of the highest in the field and he is ranked third with a 127.5 Prime Power. In his maiden race, Archarcharch was defeated by Depeche Chat who finished third Saturday in the 7-furlong Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Archarcharch has never run in a route but with Arch, Kris S, Roberto, Woodman and Nureyev in the first three generations of his pedigree, he has the breeding to easily handle the mile distance.
San Pedro Stakes
Trainer Bob Baffert has 8-1 long shot Classic Legacy and Sinai who is the lukewarm 5-2 morning line favorite entered in 20th running of the $75,000 San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
Sinai comes into the race with a sharp 2-length win for Zayat Stables in a 6 ½ -furlong maiden race at Hollywood Park on December 18.
Classic Legacy finished fifth in the Delta Jackpot (G3) last out but if you throw out that race, he has two wins and a third-place finish in his first three starts.
I like it that Baffert is dropping Classic Legacy back in distance and a sharp 4-furlong bullet work out at Santa Anita on January 13 may have him primed to run a good race.
If City Cool (3-1) repeats his December 28 performance in the Riley Allison Futurity at Sunland Park he has a good shot at winning the San Pedro. City Cool broke sharply from post 10 to take the early lead in the 12-horse field en route to a 7 ¼ - length romp in the Futurity covering the 6 ½ - furlongs in 1:15.53.
Since finishing off the board in his maiden debut, City Cool has improved his record to 2-1-1 in five starts for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Arcadian (4-1) also has a good shot at winning the San Pedro.
Trainer Dan McFarlane ships Arcadian in from Turf Paradise where he has been dominating the competition. In his maiden debut last November, Arcadian easily won a 6 ½ - furlong maiden optional claimer by 6 - lengths and came back in December to win the 6 ½ - furlong Lost In The Fog Stakes by 6 ½ - lengths in a final time of 1:15.11.
McFarlane tags Patrick Valenzuela for the mount and a sharp 6-furlong work out January 10 may have Arcadian primed to run a good race.
Jimmy Winkfield Stakes
Rift, trained by Dick Dutrow, heads the field six 3-year-old thoroughbreds as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the 27th running of the $65,000 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct.
Fort Hughes is the 9-5 morning line second choice and Royal Currier is the 4-1 third choice.
The Jimmy Winkfield looks to be a very competitive race as the top three favorites will be tough to beat. But, from a betting perspective, to me it does not appear to be very attractive and may be a good race to kick back and be a fan instead of a handicapper.