Trainer Mark Casse’s Coastline has been tabbed as the lukewarm 5-2 morning-line favorite in the 7th running Monday of the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
In his last race, Coastline also was favored in the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3). But he stumbled at the start and was unable to make up the lost ground, finishing eighth in a ten-horse field, 12-lengths behind the victor, Rise Up. Prior to that race, Coastline was 2-1-0 in three starts.
A sharp work out on January 13 at Oaklawn Park, running 5-furlongs in 1:03.20 over a fast track, could have Coastline ready to run a good race. And, if he runs anywhere near his final time of 1:36.77 in the Street Sense Stakes, which he won at Churchill Downs last October, that would make him very competitive in this race.
A long shot I like in this race is Unstoppable Colby (20-1) who will go to the starting gate for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Unstoppable Colby has yet to break his maiden and he comes into this race with a 0-1-0 record in three starts. However, Unstoppable Colby showed good speed in his last race to finish second in 7-furlong sprint at Churchill Downs last November.
Lukas knows how to get horses ready for big races and last year he won this race with the 12.10 long shot Will Take Charge who was my Kentucky Derby long shot pick and selected this weekend as the Eclipse Champion Three-Year-Old Male.
Unstoppable Colby has been working out at Oaklawn Park and recently he posted a faster work than Coastline, running 5-furlongs in 1:03.00 over a good track. Unstoppable Colby appears to be an improving colt and another move forward would make him competitive in the Smarty Jones Stakes.
Tanzanite Cat (6-1), trained by Coty Autry, is stepping up in class and he comes into the Smarty Jones with a 4-length maiden-breaking win in a 5½-furlong sprint at the Fair Grounds on December 8.
He’s yet to run in a route race, however, if Tanzanite Cat is anything like his sire, Graeme Hall, then he should be competitive in the stretch out to a mile. Graeme Hall was fast colt who also broke his maiden on his second start and, as a three year old on the 2000 Kentucky Derby Trail, he was able to carry his speed to victory in the 9-furlong Arkansas Derby (G2).
I look for Tanzanite Cat to be competitive.
Son of a Preacher (9-2), trained by Bret Calhoun, and Fire Starter (5-1), trained by Steve Hobby, could round out the exotics.
The Smarty Jones Stakes is not a graded stakes race but it’s proven to be a key race on the Derby trail with Eclipse Champion Will Take Charge winning this race last year. The winner of the Smarty Jones Stakes will receive 10 points while second place will yield 4 points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 1 point. Here’s a look at the current top twenty Kentucky Derby qualifiers:
2014 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Havana, 14, Todd Pletcher, $660,000
2. Honor Code, 14, Shug McGaughey, $340,000
3. Tapiture, 12, Steve Asmussen, $120,738
4. Bond Holder, 11, Doug O’Neill, $333,000
5. Rise Up, 10, Tom Amoss, $782,633
6. We Miss Artie, 10, Todd Pletcher, $242,000
7. Noble Moon, 10, Leah Gyarmati, $145,000
8. Ami’s Holiday, 10, Josie Carrroll, $136,145
9. Vicar’s in Trouble, 10, Mike Maker, $120,000
10. Cleburne, 10, Dale Romans, $102,044
11. Midnight Hawk, 10, Bob Baffert, $60,000
12. Casigaupo, 5, Mario Morales, $271,050
13. Cairo Prince, 4, Kiaran McGlaughlin, $230,000
14. Dance With Fate, 4, Peter Eurton, $110,000
15. Smarty’s Echo, 4, Anne Smith, $82,000
16. Albano, 4, Larry Jones, $70,000
17. Classic Giacnroll, 4, Lisa Guerrero, $50,000
18. Laddie Boy, 4, Chuck Perry, $39,719
19. Smart Cover, 4, Dale Romans, $32,918
20. Big Bazinga, 4, Sandra Dominguez, $29,139