09/04/2017 6:00PM

Pavel's Smarty Jones win has trainer thinking Pa. Derby

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Taylor Ejdys/EQUI-PHOTO
Pavel paid $9.80 in winning the Smarty Jones at Parx Racing on Monday.

BENSALEM, Pa. - Pavel ran so well winning the Grade 3 Smarty Jones at Parx Racing on Monday that trainer Doug O'Neill is considering changing plans for him and stablemate Irap.

Irap, the third-place finisher in the Travers nine days ago, also is currently stabled at Parx. O'Neill has been pointing Irap to the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, but Pavel ran so well in the Smarty Jones it is not impossible that he will stay at Parx for the Derby and Irap goes elsewhere. It also is possible Irap stays at Parx and Pavel heads home to California.

"I'd like to keep them separated," O'Neill said.

If O'Neill brings one of his 3-year-olds back to California, a possible next race is the Grade 1, $300,000 Awesome Again, a 1 1/8-mile race against older horses at Santa Anita on Sept. 30.

West Virginia Derby winner Colonelsdarktemper was sent from the gate by jockey Jon Court in the 1 1/16-mile Smarty Jones and was allowed to set his own pace on an uncontested lead through fractions of 24.29 and 47.84. Battalion Runner, the 6-5 favorite, and Pavel raced in the second flight biding their time.

On the far turn, jockey Mario Gutierrez set Pavel down. He moved up and took the lead from Colonelsdarktemper nearing the quarter pole. Pavel drew off under only mild urging from Gutierrez to win by six lengths.

"I had a good trip," Gutierrez said. "He is very young in his career but has matured so much. He doesn't get nervous when the other horses put him in tight. He will relax for you and go when you ask him."

O'Neill said he was concerned in the paddock when Pavel became hot and washed out.

"He's a sweater, but he did get wet and was kicking a little when he was getting saddled," O'Neill said. "I didn't know what to expect."

Pavel paid $9.80 as the third betting choice. He was timed in 1:42.27 following six furlongs in 1:11.20 and a mile in 1:35.67.

Talk Logistics rallied to finish second, a length ahead of 2-1 second choice Colonelsdarktemper. Battalion Runner weakened after six furlongs to finish fifth. Hence trailed in the six-horse field.

The Smarty Jones was Pavel's third career start. He won a maiden race at Santa Anita on July 1, and then finished fourth, beaten only a half-length for second, in the July 29 Jim Dandy, an amazing accomplishment for such a lightly raced horse.

O'Neill said his brother, Dennis, found Pavel early in his 2-year-old year and arranged for Paul and Zillah Reddam to purchase him. O'Neill credits the Reddams' patience for the success Pavel is having now.

It took us a year to get him here, through a lot of little issues," O'Neill said. "With Paul and Zillah , the horse comes first. They gave us all the time we needed to get him here."