Smarty Jones' future still is in the making

June 20, 2004|By LARRY YANOS

Trainer John Servis said a decision will be made this week concerning the future racing schedule of Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Smarty Jones.

"I know there has been some speculation, but I have not mapped out a schedule," the Charles Town, W.Va., native said Friday from Philadelphia Park. "The ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup. What road we take to get there has not been determined."

Servis, who just returned from a well-deserved vacation, says he will meet with owners Pat and Roy Chapman very soon.

The leading scenarios for Smarty Jones are the Haskell Invitational (Monmouth Park) on Aug. 8; the Travers (Saratoga) on Aug. 25; the Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 6; and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (Belmont Park) on Oct. 2.

Those "prep races" or any combination will lead up to the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 30 at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.


"My help says Smarty has been a handful since I've been gone, maybe we'll have to run him back a little earlier than Aug. 8," Servis said. "I'll discuss that with Mr. and Mrs. Chapman. We'll do what's right for the horse."

Smarty Jones is at his home track at Philadelphia Park enjoying a few weeks off following the tough Belmont Stakes defeat to Birdstone on June 5, which ruined yet another Triple Crown bid.

A well-rested Smarty Jones should be eager to return to the track but Servis and the Chapmans will have to make some decisions.

"If I lean toward anything right now, it would be the Pennsylvania Derby on his home track," Servis said. "No decisions will be made, though, until I meet with Mr. and Mrs. Chapman."

The layoff between the Belmont Stakes and Haskell Invitational would be 64 days, while waiting until the Pennsylvania Derby would be a 93-day hiatus.

Both Funny Cide and War Emblem returned in the Haskell Invitational after failing to win the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes. Funny Cide was third last year; War Emblem won in 2002.

The Chapmans also are close to a decision on where Smarty Jones will stand at stud. After touring farms in Lexington, Ky., the list has been pared to four or five.

Smarty Jones has a chance to become the all-time leading money-earner in North America by the end of the year.

With eight wins and a second-place finish in nine starts, Smarty Jones has earned $7,563,535, including a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn Park for winning the Rebel Stakes, Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby.

Cigar is the all-time leader with $9,999,815.

Southern exposure

The Maryland thoroughbred racing scene has "gone south."

Racing is being held at Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent, Va., until July 26. Cards are set for every Monday, Tuesday and Friday at 5 p.m. and every Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

In the 30-day thoroughbred meet in 2003, Colonial Downs recorded a total handle of $36,090,262 for an average of $1,203,009 per program. Both were all-time highs for the track.

The highlight of the current session will be the seventh annual Grade III $500,000 Virginia Derby on July 10.

Owners Day set for July

The highly successful Owners Day program will be held July 18 at Charles Town Races & Slots.

The impressive 10-race card will be highlighted by four $50,000 stakes races with preferences being given to Charles Town-based owners and trainers.

"The owners and trainers look forward to this day of racing," said Don Combs, Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association executive director. "The purses are good here now, even more impressive on this day."

Pony tales

Smarty Jones may be the best 3-year-old in America but he trails Pleasantly Perfect in the most recent overall thoroughbred poll conducted by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

The lineup includes: Pleasantly Perfect, Smarty Jones, Southern Image, Pico Central, Seattle Fitz, Ashado, Bear Fan, Birdstone, Speightstown and Peace Rules.

Other horses receiving votes: Meteor Storm, Azeri, Colonial Colony, Dynever, Intercontinental, Funny Cide, Midway Road , Island Fashion, Island Sand, Sabiango, Sightseek, Storm Flag Flying, Megahertz, Adoration, Madcap Escapade and Perfect Drift.

-- Smarty Jones' jockey Stewart Elliott has a new agent.

Elliott, 39, fired Ray Lopez and hired Joe Rosen last week, saying, "It was time for a change." The move ended Lopez's four-year tenure as Elliott's agent.

Larry Yanos is sports editor of The Daily Mail. He covers horse racing for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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