02/15/2012 5:06PM

Oaklawn: Southwest sees return of Servis, Elliott

Barbara D. Livingston
John Servis ponies Adirondack King at Palm Meadows in late January.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Trainer John Servis and jockey Stewart Elliott, who swept Oaklawn’s series for 3-year-olds in 2004 with eventual Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones, will make their first Arkansas appearances in several years Monday.

Servis has sent Adirondack King in from Florida for the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes, the first major prep on Oaklawn’s road to the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby. As of Wednesday, there were 21 probables for the Southwest, a one-mile race that could be split into two divisions.

Elliott has the mount on Adirondack King, who is a son of Lawyer Ron, the winner of the 2006 Arkansas Derby, and Jostle, a multiple Grade 1 winner who Servis trained.

“If he runs real good in my eyes, then I’m going to keep him here,” said Servis.

Adirondack King came out first after the renovation break on Wednesday and breezed a half-mile in 49.40 seconds in the mud under jockey Carlos Marquez Jr. Oaklawn head clocker, Jim Hamilton, had the horse’s final quarter in 23.60 seconds, and had him galloping out five furlongs in 1:02.

“I was happy with it,” said Servis, who has been in town since Sunday. “He came back really good.”

Adirondack King, who arrived Saturday from the Palm Meadows training center, has won 3 of 6 starts, including a restricted stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs at Parx Racing in Philadelphia. Servis has been looking for the right spot for the horse to go two turns and liked the mile distance of the Southwest.

“The big thing is the distance,” he said. “The only time he ran two turns he came out of the race sick. And so other than that, he’s really never run over seven-eighths and acts like he wants to. I thought if we could creep him along it would be a lot better than going right into a mile and sixteenth or a mile and an eighth.

“And it’s been good to me here.”

Smarty Jones remains one of the most popular horses ever to have raced at Oaklawn. He swept the track’s 3-year-old series during its centennial celebration, and for winning the Rebel, Arkansas Derby, and Kentucky Derby earned a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn’s president, Charles Cella. Servis continued to send a division of horses to Oaklawn through 2008, and won such local races as the Grade 3 Essex with Rockport Harbor and the Grade 3 Azeri with Round Pond. Elliott last rode at Oaklawn in 2007.

Servis trains Adirondack King for MarchFore Thoroughbreds, a group of five partners from the Philadelphia area: Sarah Leonard, Bob Graham, Edward Parry, Gregory Newell, and Robert Schnuer. They named the horse in honor of the late John Leonard, the group’s original managing partner who loved the Adirondack mountain range in his native New York. The group also has a promising 3-year-old Pulpit filly named for him, J K L’s Legacy, who is in training with Servis.

“They lost a really good guy when they lost him,” said Servis.

Baffert, Garcia on different teams Monday

Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Martin Garcia, who have swept into Oaklawn the last few years and won a number of stakes together, including the 2011 Rebel with The Factor, will be on opposing sides Monday in the Southwest.

Garcia has the mount on Longview Drive in the Southwest for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Baffert has sent Secret Circle and Castaway in for the race, and said Rafael Bejarano has the mount on Secret Circle. If the Southwest is split, Bejarano will also be able to ride Castaway, as horses who have the same owner or trainer will run in different divisions. Bejarano is the regular rider on Secret Circle, and in November guided him to a win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint.

Borel on Laurie’s Rocket

Calvin Borel, a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby now based at Oaklawn after riding in Florida, will have the mount on Laurie’s Rocket in the Southwest, said Dallas Stewart, who trains the horse. Laurie’s Rocket was to ship Wednesday to Oaklawn from his base at Fair Grounds. Laurie’s Rocket missed by a nose in the Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds in December, then last out was fifth, beaten two lengths, in the $100,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn.

◗ Atigun, a recent allowance winner at Oaklawn, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.40 for the Southwest on Wednesday morning, under jockey Terry Thompson. “He worked in company,” said trainer Ken McPeek. “He worked excellent, galloped out perfect. The horse is really doing well.”