Bob Baffert added another official contender for the 2018 Kentucky Derby to his stable as three-year-old Mourinho won the 2018 Smarty Jones Stakes on Monday, January 15th in style.
Using a clean break to secure an early lead, Mourinho set fractions of :23.33, :48.09 and 1:12.27 before streaming home to cover the mile in a final time of 1:37.25. This was the second fastest finish in the history of this race. The 2018 Smarty Jones winner was simply in a class all his own.
Mourinho delivered $3.20 and $2.10 to win while Combatant placed second at 8/5 to pay out $2.40. Tap Daddy was third by a significant margin at 6/1, while Bode’s Maker rounded out the top-four, all of whom received derby points.
This was an important step in the maturation process of Mourinho. “We always hoped he’d pass the two turn test,” Baffert said. “He broke well and was able to make the early lead. He looked like he had plenty left. We’re very encouraged. We’re excited. It’s that time of year when you start to get excited. I don’t know where we’ll run him back. The Southwest may be a good spot. We’ll get him back to California and see what happens.”
Most importantly, this was the first stakes win for Mourinho after finishing second twice in both the 2017 Speakeasy and 2017 Bob Hope Stakes to end his run as a two-year-old competitor. Mourinho is now 2-2-0 in four starts with $154,360 in career earnings. It’s a modest start for a son of Super Saver, and grandson of More Than Ready, but the incredible pace he displayed in the 2018 Smarty Jones should really invigorate his supporters. The next test will involve stretching him past a mile.
It sounds like the 2018 Smarty Jones victory is just the beginning for Mourinho. The Southwest runs on February 19th out of Oaklawn on the same weekend as several other Kentucky Derby prep races such as the Risen Star at Fair Grounds and the Hyacinth at Tokyo Racecourse in Japan.