The Smarty Jones Stakes out of Oaklawn went pretty much unnoticed as most don’t see it as a big event despite its inclusion on the the Kentucky Derby trail, but the results might shift that perspective. Three-year-old Uncontested blistered the field with a scorching victory that saw him thunder to the front of the pack. The Wayne Catalano trainee is now pointed towards the 2017 Southwest Stakes, and he will face off with an old rival from his last race.
Roy Mouqett’s Petrov came second at the Smarty Jones and will look to avenge the result. Petrov’s connections had explored a variety of options before officially declaring for the 2017 Southwest Stakes. “I think you should always do that before you say for sure what’s up, because the last thing I want to do is tell somebody I’m doing something and then find out there’s a four-horse field for equal money somewhere else,” Moquett revealed. “I want to run here in this series. I’ve got a bunch of reasons I want to do well here.”
That series includes the 2017 Smarty Jones, the 2017 Southwest Stakes and the 2017 Arkansas Derby. All three are big components of the Kentucky Derby trail, but the Arkansas Derby is considered one of the main prep races for the first leg of the Triple Crown. Performing consistently at Oaklawn’s biggest races doesn’t necessarily guarantee big results in the American Classics, but as is the case with horse racing anything can happen.
The three-year-old class is still headed by Classic Empire with others such as McCraken making cases for themselves. But both Petrov and Uncontested remain near the top of the betting board. The results of the 2017 Southwest Stakes will be very telling. They’ll either create a big rivalry in the heart of the country between two up and coming talents, or it will cement Uncontested as a horse to watch in the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager.