05/06/2004 11:00PM

Derby winner not so working class


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Let's hear no more heartfelt epics about Smarty Jones as the classic winner from the wrong side of the tracks. Good horses rarely have truly bad pedigrees, and if a horse doesn't do something to make his pedigree look better, a quick look around will usually turn up a distinguished ancestor or three.

In the case of Smarty Jones, there is no need to look far.

The muscular chestnut winner of the Kentucky Derby is by Elusive Quality, who is easily one of the half-dozen best young stallions in the country. And Elusive Quality is by the country's hottest sire of sires, the vigorous Mr. Prospector stallion Gone West, whose other top sons include Grand Slam and Mr. Greeley.

The Derby winner, whose dam is I'll Get Along, traces in the female line to the great imported foundation mare La Troienne, whose other descendants include Buckpasser, Seattle Slew, and Mr. Prospector.

So, Smarty Jones is about as blue collar as Seabiscuit, who was a Phipps-bred, Claiborne-raised grandson of Man o' War.

Smarty Jones also comes from a Phipps family, one that had been acquired from E.R. Bradley's Idle Hour Stud and traces to some of the strongest stock in the Stud Book.

The third dam of Smarty Jones is the stakes-placed Herbager mare Stolen Base, who was bred by Ogden Phipps and Wheatley Stable. Raised at Claiborne, Stolen Base was by a French Derby winner and out of Bases Full, by the French champion Ambiorix. Stolen Base placed in a half-dozen stakes from 2 through 4 but never managed to win at that level.

As a producer, Stolen Base started out a bit slowly, with none of her first three foals earning black type. Five of the mare's six subsequent foals, however, were stakes horses, but by that time, she had passed into the ownership of Frances A. Genter, who bred and raced Basie, a Grade 1 winner and the best of Stolen Base's offspring.

The last foal from Stolen Base was the Foolish Pleasure mare Dont Worry Bout Me. A minor stakes winner, Dont Worry Bout Me had speed, and she is the second dam of Smarty Jones.

Dont Worry Bout Me proved a significantly better producer than racemare. She has foaled two stakes winners, the graded winner Cowboy Cop (by Silver Deputy) and I'll Get Along (by Smile). Dont Worry Bout Me foaled I'll Get Along in 1992, and Genter sold the filly at the Keeneland September sale in 1993 for $40,000. Roy and Pat Chapman bought her, raced her, and then sold I'll Get Along the year after she produced this year's Kentucky Derby winner.

With each of his first three dams being stakes horses, Smarty Jones clearly derives from very respectable stock. In addition, his broodmare sire is sprint champion Smile, who was a very talented racer but a disappointing sire. In fact, I'll Get Along was about as good a runner as Smile sired in his years at stud.

Smarty Jones's second dam is by another Kentucky Derby winner in Foolish Pleasure, who was champion 2-year-old colt in 1974 and a useful horse at stud.

Herbager, the sire of the third dam, was more than useful. A classic horse who began his career in France, Herbager showed the ability to sire stock with pace and stamina over the courses of Europe and America, and provided the valuable qualities of stamina and classic ability for American breeders after his importation to Claiborne Farm in the late 1960's.

Behind the first three generations of Smarty Jones's ancestors, the quality does not diminish. To the contrary, it increases. The family goes back through stakes winners Bases Full and Striking to that shirker Baby League, who was only a winner.

A daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Bubbling Over, Baby League produced four stakes winners, including Busher, who was the Horse of the Year in 1945.

Although Baby League wasn't an important runner, five of her siblings were stakes winners and two others placed in stakes. The best were Black Helen, winner of the American Derby, Florida Derby, and Coaching Club American Oaks, and Bimelech, who went into the 1940 Kentucky Derby undefeated. He finished second. Nonetheless, Bimelech won the Preakness and Belmont and became a good sire.

The dam of this bubbling brood was La Troienne.

Generally considered the most important mare imported to America in the 20th century - and who could compete with her, except possibly Rough Shod? - La Troienne was not a winner, although she ran in good company. But she came from a distinguished family extending back through years of breeding in France and England.

The lineage of La Troienne and, therefore, Smarty Jones, traces back to the exceptional producer Penelope, a foal of 1798. A winner of 18 races herself, she was even more important as a broodmare. Her foals included Whalebone and Whisker, both winners of the Derby Stakes, and a 1000 Guineas winner, Whizgig.

Penelope is so important that she has her own branch of the No. 1 Family, which descends from Tregonwell's Natural Barb Mare and thence passes back into the sands of time.