09/03/2013 12:23PM

Dick Jerardi: Jockey Elliott appropriate hero at Parx Racing on Smarty Jones Day

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Barbara Weidl/Equi-Photo
Stewart Elliott guides Edge of Reality to victory in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx. Elliott was the regular rider of Smarty Jones.

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Favorites won three of the four stakes at Parx Racing on Labor Day. That was not a shock. The one favorite who did not win was Ben’s Cat. That was a shock.

It was Smarty Jones Day at Parx with the purses bumped way up throughout a day that culminated with a pair of $200,000 stakes and two $350,000 stakes.

The star of the day was Stewart Elliott, the man who rode Smarty Jones in every start of his career. The Parx veteran won the $350,000 Smarty Jones Stakes on the favorite just after producing a huge upset in the $350,000 Turf Monster on a 28-1 shot.

Hard to believe it is nearly 10 years since Smarty made his debut in November 2003 at what was then called Philadelphia Park. None of the fans in eastern Pennsylvania has forgotten. Neither has Elliott.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s been 10 years,” Elliott said. “It’s still fresh for me. I think it about all the time.”

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Elliott is closing on 29,000 rides in his career. He has won more than 4,500 races, and his mounts have earned nearly $90 million. He has been a really good rider for a really long time. But it was his short time with Smarty Jones that will be long remembered. And Elliott is fine with that.

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Smarty’s owner, Pat Chapman, presented the trophy to the connections of Smarty Jones Stakes winner Edge of Reality. She especially enjoyed posing with Elliott.

If Edge of Reality, trained by Tony Dutrow, was no great surprise in the Smarty, Stormofthecentury was the very definition of a surprise in the Turf Monster. The 5-year-old had 12 fewer grass starts (two) than Ben’s Cat had grass wins (14). Seemed like a tough spot to make his stakes debut.

With 200 yards to go, it was going to be the super fast Tightend Touchdown in front, Stormofthecentury chasing, or Ben’s Cat closing. You might still have gotten 20-1 on the eventual winner at that point. But he got it done, and it did not look like a fluke.

King Leatherbury, trainer of Ben’s Cat, his horse of a lifetime, seemed a bit bemused by the whole thing. He just figured like the rest of us that Ben was going to win.

“He was close enough, made his run, and I don’t know,” Leatherbury said. “He’s made up that much ground many times, but, damn, the race seemed like it was over with so quick.”

Ben ended up third, just behind Tightend Touchdown. Elliott, however, took nothing for granted when he caught the front-runner.

“I knew I could get the horse in front, but you don’t know where Ben’s Cat is,” Elliott said. “He could show up last second.”

Ben’s Cat had won the Turf Monster the last two years. He has won a Maryland Million race the last three years. But there is no turf sprint on Maryland Million Day at Laurel Park this year. Ben will be there anyway.

“They killed me,” Leatherbury said. “They took that race out completely. It was my race. So now I have an opportunity to either run on the dirt six furlongs or on the turf going a flat mile. So I’ll enter in both of them and then decide which one looks like the best.”

Dale Romans, the 2012 Eclipse Award winner as America’s leading trainer, made a brief stop at Parx to take down the $200,000 Turf Amazon with favored Silverette. He liked the ambience. Might he want to bring a string to the track someday?

“I told [director of racing] Sal [Sinatra] all he’s got to do is tell me he’s got one of these good barns ready and I’ll be here,” Romans said. “This is a nice place.”

The amazing Eldaafer, one of the great claims in history, won the 1 1/2-mile Greenwood Cup by a desperate nose over Indian Jones.

The 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner, trained by Diane Alvarado, was claimed for $20,000 in January 2009. His Greenwood Cup win pushed his career earnings beyond $1 million.

Blow-up performances

Blimey was running for the 26th time when Scott Lake claimed the horse for $5,000 on July 31 at Delaware Park. On Aug. 28, Blimey, running for $6,250 at Delaware, cooked six furlongs in 1:08.18 and won by eight lengths.

A. P. Cino was 3 for 13 when he was entered in a first-level allowance at Penn National on Aug. 17. The 3-year-old promptly won by 11 lengths.

Lucy’s Bob Boy dominates again

Not much went right when Charles Town star Lucy’s Bob Boy ran fifth in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park. Back home in the $50,000 Gall Memorial, Lucy’s Bob Boy won by 5 1/4 lengths. In 18 lifetime races, he has 14 wins and 3 seconds.

Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Had Speak Logistics. Took a bad step late or he wins.
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
Congrats to Stu Elliott for winning the Smarty Jones. I would have preferred that he lose the Turf Monster to Ben's Cat, but oh, well. Too bad Laurel was so short-sighted in eliminating their Turf Sprint this year. That obviously would have been the highlight of Maryland Millions Day, since Ben has so many fans and now he'll have to race over something other than his favorite surface and distance.
fuggedabodit More than 1 year ago
IMO Stew had no choice but to ride Smarty exactly as he did in the 04 Belmont.. Alex Solis who rode Rock Hard Ten never allowed Smarty to get a breather. Every time Stew let Smarty out a notch, Solis was right there with him. Taking a hold of him wasn't gonna happen as Smarty had his juices flowing with Eddington on his outside, and RHT on his inside. RHT, and Eddington were taken out of their comfort zones in that race for whatever reason....all I know is, Smarty Jones would've been a worthy triple crown winner!
Joyce Johnson Groome More than 1 year ago
I can remember Rock Hard Ten breathing down on Smarty! He was such a big colt! I knew Smarty was in trouble!
Jay More than 1 year ago
a good jock would have won the Belmont that year.....Elliot rode an awful race..
steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
You are a moron.
mikey J More than 1 year ago
I remember Stewy from his days at Suffolk Downs. He was leading rider on numerous occasions. He has always been a good "heads up rider" , and given the gambler a good effort for there $$$$. Great to see Owners and Trainers are awarding him with decent mounts he can excel with. Keep up the good work kid, I for one see you as one of the better riders in the country. As for the Triple. Crown I think his lack of familiarity with the oval hindered his overall ride. I sincerely believe Smarty should have been a TC champion. We all make mistakes, Stewy's was just on a grand stage in the Belmont. Keep riding hard Stew we gamblers greatly appreciate it. It does not go unnoticed
Jerseyjoe B More than 1 year ago
Jerry Bailey screwed up the race when he drove Eddington up on the outside in the backstretch, causing Elliott to move earlier than he otherwise would have. Eddington couldn't possibly stay in contention after a move like that - an all out middle move which was contrary to that horse's running style.. So Bailey had nothing to gain, but he probably cost Smarty Jones the Triple Crown.
Joyce Johnson Groome More than 1 year ago
Jerry Bailey knew exactly what he was doing! They were going to press Smarty all the way and hope that he couldn't do the 1 1/2 miles! The fractions, as fast as they were, it was a perfect set up for Birdstone! Smarty had a big bullseye on his butt and everyone knew it! Would have been great for the industry, too! Idiots!
Perl More than 1 year ago
A lot of people criticize Elliott for his ride on Smarty in the Belmont, but I just think he was in a tough situation. The horse got pushed through a 1:35 mile. I suppose Elliott could have tried to reserve him behind Eddington and Rock Hard 10, but I don't think the result would have been different. Smarty Jones wasn't a true stayer. He was just a freak talent who was able to carry his speed a long way. As is, he ran a great race in the Belmont and was caught by the underrated Birdstone, a horse who broke his maiden at first asking at SAR by 15 lengths, won the Champagne, Belmont, and Travers, and has sired two classic winners already.
steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
Let's be homest. Elliott had him too close to a fast pace and was worried more of losing that of how to ride. In the end i made a small fortune on that exacta. Gotta love the ride Elliott gave, but feel bad for the stupid connections for hiring a jockey that was obviously a cut below the other riders. They sucked him in and he fell for it hook, line and sinker.
Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
Lets be honest...YAFOS...