SMARTY JONES STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | 1 MILE
James and Ywachetta Driver's Tanzanite Cat gave up the lead on the backstretch but took it back in mid-stretch and went on to a smooth victory in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds at Oaklawn Park Jan. 20.
The Smarty Jones is a qualifying race for the Kentucky Derby. Tanzanite Cat, a colt by Graeme Hall out of the Mt. Livermore mare Gentle Wave, earned 10 points for the Derby.
Ridden by meet leading rider Norberto Arroyo Jr. for trainer Cody Autrey, Tanzanite Cat last raced Dec. 8, when he broke his maiden impressively in a 5 ½-furlong special weight event at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. He finished third in his career debut as the favorite in August at Del Mar.
Tanzanite Cat grabbed the early lead in the one-mile Smarty Jones and raced an opening quarter-mile in :23.17 seconds. Walt, ridden by Ken Tohill, also broke well and, before the half-mile was clocked in :47.37 seconds, snuck up the rail to grab the lead.
Walt, who had previously only raced at Remington Park, maintained a short lead over Tanzanite Cat until mid-stretch when the latter took over again and drew clear to win by 1 ¼ lengths. Walt held well for second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of favorite Coastline, who was a wide third throughout from post 10.
The six-furlong time was 1:12.31, and the final time 1:38.69 on a fast track. Son of a Preacher finished an even fourth in the Smarty Jones.
Tanzanite Cat paid $20.20, $8.40, and $5.60 across the board. Walt returned $8 and $4.40, while Coastline paid $2.80. The $2 exacta was worth $127, and the $2 trifecta $486.20.
Tanzanite Cat was bred in Florida by Charles Deters and Dr. James Peterson. He was a $150,000 purchase at the 2013 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. April sale of 2-year-olds in training.