Smarty Jones Rematch On Hold Until March

January 30, 2020

GOLD STREET/ Coady Photography

Oaklawn Park News

Any rematch between the top two finishers in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds last Friday at Oaklawn apparently won’t occur until at least March.

While Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said front-running winner Gold Street “most likely” will make his next start in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 17, Smarty Jones runner-up Three Technique will probably skip the 1 1/16-mile race and await Oaklawn’s final major Arkansas Derby prep, his trainer, Jeremiah Englehart, said Wednesday afternoon.

Englehart said Three Technique is still under consideration for the Southwest, but his next stop is more likely the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles March 14, another steppingstone to the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 11. 

“Right now, he seems like he came back fine,” Englehart said. “He’s been back to the track. Probably the Rebel might be next for him.”

Englehart said he was pleased with Three Technique’s performance in the Smarty Jones, which marked his 3-year-old, stakes and two-turn debut. Three Technique, the 2-1 favorite, was beaten 2 ¾ lengths by a loose-on-the-lead Gold Street after breaking a touch slow from post 9 in the nine-horse field. The 1-mile race was run over a muddy surface and was Gold Street’s third consecutive victory (all on-off tracks).

“I was pretty happy with the way he ran, all things considered,” Englehart said. “Steve’s horse ran a great race. Kind of was able to dictate his pace. We didn’t get off to the best start, but I thought for Three Technique it was the right move forward in stakes company and hopefully he’ll continue to improve.”

Owned by Bill Parcells, a two-time Super Bowl-winning coach and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Three Technique closed 2019 with two dominating victories in New York and has been favored in all five career starts, including a maiden special weights sprint July 21 at Saratoga. Three Technique finished second, beaten 1 ¼ length by Basin, who returned to win the $350,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1) Sept. 2 at Saratoga. Basin, also trained by Asmussen, is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in the Rebel. The Liam’s Map colt posted his third half-mile work this month Sunday at Fair Grounds (:51.20).

Gold Street provided Asmussen with his first Smarty Jones victory and 84th Oaklawn stakes victory overall. Asmussen, seeking his record-tying 11th Oaklawn training title, has at least one stakes victory every year in Hot Springs since his first in 1996. According to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization, the Smarty Jones was Asmussen’s 1,001st North American stakes victory. He had already reached 1,000 worldwide with two stakes victories in 2008 in Dubai by Curlin, winner of the 2007 Rebel and Arkansas Derby.

Gold Street, who was making his 3-year-old, and two-turn debut in the Smarty Jones, was exiting a 3 ½-length score over a sloppy track in the $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes Dec. 21 at Fair Grounds. Gold Street earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 95, a career-high, for his Smarty Jones victory.

“Nice horse – that’s now three wins together in a row, all three on off racetracks,” Asmussen said. “I think that the racetracks are definitely playing conducive to his natural style and he took advantage of it.”

The 6-furlong Sugar Bowl has been a productive Smarty Jones prep since the race was inaugurated in 2008. Liberty Bull finished second in the 2007 Sugar Bowl before winning the 2008 Smarty Jones in his 3-year-old and two-turn debut. Gray Attempt won the 2018 Sugar Bowl and last year’s Smarty Jones in his 3-year-old and two-turn debut.

Owned by Texan Mike McCarty, a longtime Asmussen client, Gold Street has finished first or second in his last five starts after running ninth in his Aug. 24 off-the-turf career debut at Ellis Park.

“He’s a big, strong colt that’s finally put it together,” Asmussen said. “There’s a lot of him there, and he’s in a very good rhythm and obviously on a three-race win streak.”

Gold Street earned 10 Kentucky Derby-qualifying points for his victory, with Three Technique receiving four. Gold Street, a $150,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, is by Street Boss, who sired 2014 Arkansas Derby winner Danza. McCarty and Asmussen finished third in the 2006 Arkansas Derby with Private Vow.

Locally based Answer In is scheduled to make his 3-year-old in the Southwest for trainer Brad Cox. Answer In hasn’t started since finishing second in the $400,000 Springboard Mile Dec. 15 at Remington Park. Like the Smarty Jones, the Southwest will offer 17 points toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby (10-4-2-1). The Southwest has a record purse this year.

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