09/03/2011 12:38PM

Parx: Smarty Jones distance much better fit for J J's Lucky Train


Trainer Bill Anderson was pleasantly surprised at how well J J’s Lucky Train bounced back following the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.

“He ran his eyeballs out,” Anderson said. “He cleaned up the feed tub that night, and he’s doing as good now as he ever has. I thought it might take something out of him, but it sure didn’t.”

J J’s Lucky Train returns to action Monday in the $300,000 Smarty Jones for 3-year-olds at Parx Racing. The race is the local prep for the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 24.

The Haskell at Monmouth Park was a formful contest with Coil getting the win followed by Preakness winner Shackleford and Belmont Stakes hero Ruler On Ice.

Then came J J’s Lucky Train, a 14-1 outsider who looked like he would hit the board at the top of the lane.

It was a big effort at 1 1/8 miles, a distance that stretched the colt’s range.

J J’s Lucky Train, claimed by Anderson for $40,000 from his debut at Monmouth in July 2010, has run once at Parx, rolling to an easy win in a first-level race last November.

Several factors in the Smarty Jones should benefit J J’s Lucky Train, starting with the distance of one mile, 70 yards. Four of J J’s Lucky Train’s five wins have come at seven furlongs or less, including the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct.

“It’s a big plus,” Anderson said of the cutback.

So is the class relief. While the Smarty Jones attracted a very competitive field, there are no Grade 1 winners in the lineup. The race drew 10 runners, including Pants On Fire, the Louisiana Derby winner who ran fifth in the Haskell.

Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out the uncoupled duo of Joe Vann, the Illinois Derby winner who was sixth in the Haskell, and Turbo Compressor who captured an overnight stakes early in the Saratoga meet that netted a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

Concealed Identity, the Tesio winner at Pimlico, has the rail after running last in the Haskell.

The Dutrow brothers each has a horse in the Smarty Jones. Richard Jr. sends out Redeemed, second in the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga, while Tony saddles Rush Now, one of the expected speeds from the outside post following a pacesetting effort that got second in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby.

Scotus, Wilburn, and I’m Steppin’ It Up complete the field.