01/15/2013 5:21PM

Oaklawn Park: Brown Almighty to make dirt debut in Smarty Jones

Barbara D. Livingston
Although Brown Almighty has yet to race on dirt, he has trained over it extensively.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Brown Almighty is a two-turn stakes winner on turf and on Monday he will attempt to transfer his form to dirt when he makes his first main-track start in the $150,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park.

The Smarty Jones is the first of Oaklawn’s three preps for the Grade  1, $1 million Arkansas Derby. It will be run at a mile, and it highlights a special five-day race week.

In his last start, Brown Almighty finished ninth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Nov. 3, earning his way there after winning the $50,000 Sunny’s Halo at Louisiana Downs, finishing second by a neck in the $150,000 Sunday Silence at the same track, and being elevated from third to second in a roughly run Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland on Oct. 7. All of Brown Almighty’s starts have come in turf routes, with his 2-for-5 record including a debut score at Arlington Park on July 14. He has been settled in at Oaklawn since Nov. 28.

“He’s trained very well over the dirt,” said Tim Ice, who trains the horse for the partnership of Tri-Star Racing, Joe B. Denson, and Brent Gasaway. “I honestly loved how he was training on the dirt up to the Breeders’ Cup race at Santa Anita. And since he’s been on the dirt this whole time at Oaklawn, he’s trained very well. His workouts have been very good. I’ve put him in company a couple of times and broke him off behind a horse to let him get dirt in his face and he’s handled all of that like a professional.”

Ice said Corey Nakatani has the mount on Brown Almighty, who is by Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown.

Ice said Brown Almighty ended up on turf as a 2-year-old in large part because the route races he wanted for him on the main track were not filling. Ice said the horse also had some pedigree for the grass. He added, however, that the goal was to move Brown Almighty to dirt at 3.

“It just worked out he was able to run on the turf, did well over the turf, but we were looking long-term dirt,” said Ice, who trained champion 3-year-old Summer Bird.

The Smarty Jones is also expected to draw Texas Bling and Will Take Charge, the first-two finishers in the $300,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park in December.

Liberty Girl may try stakes next

Liberty Girl won her second consecutive race here on Friday when she powered home by more than four lengths in a first-level allowance route for 3-year-old fillies. She could see stakes action for her next start, said Eoin Harty, who trains Liberty Girl for Casner Racing.

“Potentially we’re going to run in the Martha Washington,” said Harty.

The $75,000 race for 3-year-old fillies at a mile is Feb. 9 at Oaklawn.

Liberty Girl is perfect in dirt routes, having won her maiden in one at Churchill Downs in her fourth career start Nov. 17. She came back and took the Oaklawn allowance with a career-high Beyer Figure of 72.

“I think she’s really nice,” said Robby Albarado, who rode Liberty Girl for the first time Friday. “I don’t think we know the depth of her yet.”

Liberty Girl is a half-sister to Grade 1 winners Ruler On Ice and Champagne d’Oro. She is by A.P. Warrior.

Harty, who has a division for the first time at Oaklawn, also ran Endorsement on Friday. The multiple Grade 3 winner was the favorite in the $75,000 Fifth Season but finished eighth after pressing the pace through six furlongs in a laboring 1:16. The race was Endorsement’s first since August. He emerged from it in good order and his next race is to be determined, said Harty.

“We’ll get him back to the track and make a plan,” he said.

Endorsement is also owned by Casner Racing.

Donoharm won the Fifth Season and plans for his next start are to be determined, said his trainer, Bret Calhoun. He is scheduled to remain at Oaklawn.

Racing set to resume Thursday

Oaklawn, which because of flash flooding was forced to cancel its opening Saturday and Sunday cards, is scheduled to resume racing Thursday. The track experienced a washout area entering its first turn after more than 2 inches of rain fell in less than an hour before post for the first race Saturday.

“Fortunately, the damage looked worse than it really was,” said David Longinotti, assistant general manager for racing at Oaklawn.

There was no training at Oaklawn Sunday and Monday to make repairs, and Tuesday’s training was canceled due to snow.