01/19/2010 1:00AM

Dryfly must pass two tests at Oaklawn


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Just about every 3-year-old in the $100,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park on Monday has something to prove, making the first prep on the road to the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby a real puzzle. Some are out to establish their two-turn form in the one-mile race, while others will be seeking to prove their stakes class.

Dryfly will be tested on both fronts, but could start as a slight favorite in the 12-horse field because he comes off a sharp allowance win at seven furlongs at Churchill Downs on Nov. 1. He earned a Beyer Figure of 89, which is the best last-race number in the Smarty Jones.

"His race was everything you wanted to see," said Lynn Whiting, who trains Dryfly for Oaklawn president Charles Cella. "It was a fine effort from him. He made a fast pace and finished up."

The win was the second in three starts for Dryfly, who won his career debut at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 1. He was a private purchase last year by Cella, and both he and Whiting are hopeful that Dryfly, a son of the A.P. Indy stud Jump Start, will handle the distance test Monday.

"It looks like he might go around two turns, so that's encouraging," Cella said. "I'm looking forward to his race."

Calvin Borel, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year, will be aboard from post 4.

"When you look up, he'll be in the race," Whiting said of Dryfly.

Perfect Drive also figures to be prominent. He made his first start at two turns last out in the $200,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Dec. 13, and after breaking from the rail was hooked from the start. He finished fifth to winner Turf Melody.

"I'm not really sure if he wants to go long, but we didn't learn a lot at Remington," said Steve Hobby, who trains Perfect Drive.

Terry Thompson has the mount from post 7.

Pleasant Storm closed from 10th to win the $50,000 Oklahoma Classics Juvenile at Remington on Nov. 22. It was his second win in as many starts. Pleasant Storm, a tall, long-striding horse, will be making his first route start Monday.

"I think he's all two turns," said Joe Petalino, who trains Pleasant Storm.

Others in the field include stakes winners Prince Rooney and Productive Envoy.