01/18/2010 12:00AM

Dryfly impressive in Smarty Jones

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Oaklawn president Charles Cella might have a horse for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby after Dryfly turned in an impressive performance to win the on Monday.

The one-mile race was the first of three preps to the Arkansas Derby, which will be run on April 10.

Dryfly, who was Cella's first stakes winner at Oaklawn, broke well in the Smarty Jones and moved to the rail under rider Calvin Borel. He was tried by several rivals while leading through six furlongs in 1:13.75, but remained in control and in the drive comfortably held off a bid from Pleasant Storm.

Dryfly ($5.20) won by a 2 1/4 lengths over Pleasant Storm, while it was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third to Kitty's Turn. The winner covered the mile on a good track in 1:41.69, and is now being pointed for the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on Feb. 15.

"The Southwest is the obvious next stop," said Lynn Whiting, who trains Dryfly. "The race series sets up nice for him.

"This has been on his radar all fall."

Dryfly won a first-level allowance at Churchill Downs on Nov. 1 in his start leading up to the Smarty Jones. He is now 3 for 4, and for his first stakes win he earned $60,000. Dryfly is a son of the A.P. Indy stallion Jump Start.

* Attendance for the holiday card that featured a Rachel Alexandra bobblehead was 13,627.