04/02/2004 12:00AM

Smarty Jones plus 10 in derby


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - A field of 11 colts and geldings headed by Rebel Stakes winner Smarty Jones was probable for the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby as of Friday. The 1 1/8-mile race closes out the Oaklawn meet on Saturday, April 10.

The field will be drawn Wednesday with a gate limit of 14.

Borrego will be one of the top wagering choices. He arrived at Oaklawn on Wednesday aboard a flight carrying a number of horses to town from Southern California. In his last start, Borrego rallied from well back to finish second to Wimbledon in the Grade 2, $600,000 Louisiana Derby. Victor Espinoza has the mount for trainer Beau Greely.

Mr. Jester, who won the $1 million Delta Jackpot last December, will make his next start in either the Arkansas Derby or the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass the same day at Keeneland, said his trainer, Steve Wren.

Mr. Jester turned in a sharp five-furlong work under jockey Roman Chapa on Friday. He went the distance in 58.80 seconds, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:11.40.

"I thought he worked excellent," said Wren. "It was exactly what we were looking for and hoping for."

Kent Desormeaux rode Mr. Jester in his last start, when he finished an uncharacteristic sixth to Smarty Jones in the $200,000 Rebel. Desormeaux will not be back aboard the horse for his next race, Wren confirmed. The decision was Desormeaux's, and Wren has not named a replacement rider for Mr. Jester.

Another top contender expected for the Arkansas Derby is Harvard Avenue, who in his last start was third to Preachinatthebar in the Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 14. He is trained by Doug O'Neill.

Others considered probable for the race by Oaklawn officials are Foxtrot Oscar, Hasslefree, Mambo Train, Pro Prado, Purge, Shadowland, and Tricky Taboo.

Purge and Pro Prado finished second and third last out in the Rebel, while Tricky Taboo was second last out in the Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park.

Smarty Jones, 5 for 5, is the lone 3-year-old eligible for a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn. The bonus rewards the connections of any horse who sweeps the Rebel, the Arkansas Derby, and the Kentucky Derby. Trainer John Servis said Smarty Jones is doing well. He planned to work the colt five furlongs on Saturday, April 3.

Shake You Down is highweight

Shake You Down has been made the 121-pound highweight for the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on Thursday. Entries for the race will be taken on Sunday.

Shake You Down came out of his last start, a fifth-place finish in the $50,000 Hot Springs at Oaklawn, with mucus in his air passages, but is fine now, said his trainer, Scott Lake.

"We scoped him the other day and he was clean," said Lake, who added the horse will go in the Count Fleet.

Beau's Town is the second highweight at 118, followed by Skeet at 116. A new addition to the field is Aloha Bold, 114, who worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.20 seconds at Fair Grounds on Friday.

"He did it well within himself," said Wes Hawley, who trains Aloha Bold.

Hawley said Aloha Bold is probable for the Count Fleet. He will be ridden by Lonnie Meche. Aloha Bold won the $60,000 Colonel Power Handicap at Fair Grounds in January.

Was My Case, who is nominated to the Count Fleet, worked four furlongs in 47.40 seconds Friday. He earned a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure in his last start, when he won an optional claiming race over several stakes horses.

* Leading rider John McKee, who was thrown from Real Contender during the eighth race on Thursday, rode on Friday. He got on a few horses Friday morning and felt okay. "It looked worse than it was," he said. "It could have been a lot worse."