01/15/2011 3:51PM

Proven class vs. potential at Oaklawn


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Grant Jack, who is proven class as a stakes winner at two turns, and Archarcharch, who showed raw talent in winning his maiden in a stakes race, meet for the first time Monday in the $100,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park.

The race is the first of three preps for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 16. It will be run at a mile, and will end at the sixteenth pole, as with all races at the distance at Oaklawn.

Grant Jack won the $250,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park in his last start Dec. 11. He has stepped up his game of late, and is the most accomplished 3-year-old that trainer Bret Calhoun has based this winter at Oaklawn.

“He’s that kind of horse that you’d like to have at this time of year,” he said. “Some of the early 2-year-olds have peaked out, and then you get the kind like him that are just on the improve, just getting better every day.

“He made a big change physically about three months ago, growing up and lengthening out. Mentally, he developed a lot, and you could see in that last race that he had put it all together. He just finished, refused to lose, just kept coming and coming down the lane.”

Grant Jack ran down a quick pair of colts in Brickyard Fast and Aces N Kings to win the Springboard, earning a career-high Beyer Figure of 79. Before that race, he was second in the $100,000 Clever Trevor at seven furlongs, also at Remington Park.

Cliff Berry has the mount from post 3.

Archarcharch earned the field’s best last-race Beyer, an 83, for his 1 3/4-length win in the $56,000 Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds on Dec. 18. He rallied from just off the pace in the six-furlong race, one start after finishing second in a maiden special weight in his debut at Churchill Downs in November.

Archarcharch is bred to excel at two turns as a son of Arch, the sire of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame. Jon Court has the mount for trainer Jinks Fires.

Caleb’s Posse is the third stakes winner in the field, with his biggest moment coming in the Clever Trevor. Eddie Razo Jr. has the mount for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

◗ Oaklawn will give away Zenyatta bobbleheads while supplies last Monday.