01/19/2015 6:54PM

Far Right saves ground to win Smarty Jones

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Far Right (No. 1) and jockey Mike Smith win the Smarty Jones Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths Monday.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Far Right came through on the rail, as even-money favorite Mr. Z drifted out sharply, to win a harried dash to the wire in the $150,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park on Monday. Bayerd nabbed second, finishing 1 3/4 lengths behind Far Right. Mr. Z was another half-length back in third, while Private Prospect finished fourth.

The Smarty Jones was the first stakes in Oaklawn’s four-race series for 3-year-olds that runs through the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 11.

The first four finishers Monday all earned Kentucky Derby preference points on a scale of 10-4-2-1, with Mr. Z now sitting sixth in the overall point standings with 12 and Far Right seventh, also with 12, according to a release issued by Churchill Downs. If two or more horses have the same number of points, the tiebreaker is earnings in non-restricted stakes races.

Far Right ($7.40) was content to let the field go in the early stages of the Smarty Jones as American Sailor and Mr. Z dueled through fractions of 23.17 seconds for the opening quarter, 46.92 for the half-mile, and 1:11.79 for six furlongs. Far Right advanced as Mr. Z shook free in the stretch, but as Mr. Z drifted out sharply, Far Right rolled up the rail and proved a clear winner under Mike Smith.

“He won with something left,” said Smith, who was aboard for trainer Ron Moquett.

Far Right was making his first start for a new partnership, as Robert LaPenta now co-owns the horse with Harry Rosenblum. Far Right had raced for just Rosenblum in his last start, a troubled third-place finish in the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot.

Far Right’s effort in the Jackpot caught the attention of Smith, who won that race aboard Ocho Ocho Ocho.

“I thought with a clear run, that horse is going to be all right,” said Smith. 

Smith credited Corey Lanerie, who rode Far Right in the Jackpot, for utilizing the right style with Far Right.

“Corey Lanerie rode him last time and figured the horse out – take him way out the back and make a run with him,” Smith said. “I used the same tactics, rode him the same, asked him, and he pushed on through.”

Far Right earned $90,000 in the Smarty Jones, his first stakes win and the second victory in his seven-race career. He is a son of the In Excess stallion Notional and was bred in Kentucky by Nossab LLC and Patrick J. Crowley.

Moquett said he would defer to the owners as to the next move with Far Right, with the goal to run back at Oaklawn. The Grade 3, $300,000 Southwest is Feb. 16, and the Grade 2, $750,000 Rebel is March 14. 

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

Oaklawn estimated attendance for Monday at 12,750. Handle on the nine-race card from all sources was $3,434,917.