Smarty Jones

From Academic Kids

Smarty Jones (born February 28, 2001) is a thoroughbred race horse, and winner of the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He is descended from Triple Crown winners Secretariat and Count Fleet, as well as the famous Native Dancer and Nashua. In the direct sire line, like most winners of Triple Crown races in recent years, he descends from Mr. Prospector (1970-1999) and his sire, Elusive Quality, holds the world record for a mile on turf. Also included in Smarty Jones' pedigree are the 1964 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Northern Dancer, as well as the 1975 Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure.

Born at Someday Farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the horse was named after Milly "Smarty Jones" McNair, the mother of co-owner Pat Chapman. The two shared a birthday, and Mrs. Chapman wanted to honor her late mother. She said the horse was a strong-willed actor from birth and her mother too was a bit of a smart aleck as a child who had gotten the nickname "Smarty."

Originally Pat Chapman and her husband, Roy "Chappette", had hired Bobby Camac to be Smarty Jones' trainer, but in December 2001, Camac and his wife were murdered by Camac's stepson, Wade Russell, who was eventually convicted and sentenced to 28 years in prison. This tragedy, combined with Roy Chapman's failing health, resulted in the Chapmans' decision to disband their small breeding operation, retaining only a few of their horses. One of these was Smarty Jones, the product of a breeding between their winningest horse, the mare I'll Get Along, and the stallion Elusive Quality.

In 2003, the Chapmans gave Smarty Jones to John Servis for race training. They sold the Someday Farm property and moved into a smaller home, training only four horses. In July of 2003, Servis was schooling Smarty at the starting gate, when the animal spooked, reared up, and smashed his head on the top of the gate. He fell to the ground unconscious, blood pouring from his nostrils. Servis thought the horse was dead, but the animal was tended by a veterinarian who then shipped the horse to the New Jersey Equine Clinic. There he was diagnosed with a fractured skull. The bones around his left eye were so badly damaged that the veterinarians thought they might have to remove the eye. Smarty Jones overcame his injuries after a mere three weeks in the hospital, and spent more than a month recuperating on the farm.

John Servis carefully led him back into training and by early November of 2003, the colt had recovered completely and was ready to make his racing debut at nearby Philadelphia Park, a small racetrack in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Under Canadian-born jockey Stewart Elliott, Smarty Jones won the six furlong (1207 m) race by 7¾ lengths. Two weeks later, the horse ran away from the field to capture the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes by 15 lengths. At that point, the owners, the trainer, and the jockey were convinced that they had an extraordinary horse on their hands.

In January of 2004, now racing as a three-year old, Smarty Jones was given his first major test against a quality field of horses in the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York. On the home stretch, the colt pulled away from the field to win by 5 lengths. Realising that the Kentucky Derby was a real possibility, trainer John Servis chose to bring the horse along carefully and not push him before he was ready. As such, it was decided to take the path of least resistance to the Derby and avoid gruelling races against the very best horses in the United States. In February they shipped the horse to Oaklawn Park racetrack in Hot Springs, Arkansas where he won the Southwest Stakes, the Rebel Stakes and then the important Arkansas Derby. Despite being unbeaten in six races, Smarty Jones was nevertheless not rated as the morning line favorite for the Kentucky Derby because racing experts believed he had not been truly tested. He did go off as the slight post time favorite, however.

On 1 May 2004, Smarty Jones became the first unbeaten Kentucky Derby winner since Seattle Slew in 1977. Trainer John Servis and jockey Stewart Elliott became the first combination in 25 years to win the Kentucky Derby in their debut appearance. Smarty Jones won the most prestigious horse race in North America by 2¾ lengths, earning $854,800 for the Chapmans, along with a bonus of $5 million from Oaklawn Park for having swept the Rebel Stakes, the Arkansas Derby, and the Kentucky Derby.

On 15 May, Smarty Jones won the second leg of the Triple Crown with a victory at the Preakness Stakes by a record margin of 11 lengths.

After his Preakness victory, Smarty Jones' popularity increased and he became, arguably, the #1 fan favorite to aspire to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed won it in 1978. Breeders made offers for the breeding rights to Smarty Jones, with the offers going as high as 40 to 50 million dollars. However, on June 5 2004, Smarty Jones finished second in the Belmont Stakes, being upset in a late charge by the 36-1 long shot Birdstone. Speculation arose that the loss was a result of Elliott allowing Smarty Jones to assume the lead too early. However, neither John Servis nor the Chapmans ever blamed the jockey (it was held that a careful viewing of the race video would reveal that Elliott had a tight hold on the reins). Others pointed to Smarty Jones' relatively unfavourable 3.40 Dosage Index as being a portent of his inability to successfully negotiate the 1½-mile Belmont distance (Birdstone's Dosage Index was 1.77; the lower the Dosage number, the better suited a horse is to longer races).

The Belmont was Smarty Jones' single loss out of 9 starts.

The end of his racing career was announced August 2, 2004 following a questionable injury[1] ( Smarty Jones will stand at stud at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky, and currently occupies the same stall that housed Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew throughout his stud career until his recent death.

Smarty Jones Racing Record:

  • 1st - MAIDEN TWO-YEAR-OLDS, Philadelphia Park, November 9th, 2003
  • 1st - Pennsylvania Nursery, Philadelphia Park, November 22nd, 2003
  • 1st - Count Fleet, Aqueduct, January 3rd, 2004
  • 1st - Southwest, Oaklawn Park, February 28th, 2004
  • 1st - Rebel, Oaklawn Park, March 20th, 2004
  • 1st - Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, April 10th, 2004
  • 1st - Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 1st, 2004
  • 1st - Preakness, Pimlico, May 15th, 2004
  • 2nd - Belmont, Belmont Park, June 5th, 2004

Overall Record - 8 wins, 1 second


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