02/05/2008 12:00AM

Smarty Jones tops the crop in star power


LAS VEGAS - This week's group includes Smarty Jones, the most high-profile name among all 2008 freshman sires.

One of the most charismatic Thoroughbreds in many years, Smarty Jones lost one race in his nine starts - the Belmont Stakes - where he missed winning the Triple Crown by one length to Birdstone. Based on his exploits on the track and his singular popularity, Smarty Jones was bred to a high-quality book of mares in his first crop, resulting in 83 highly anticipated juveniles. Among his first foals are Prairie Township, a half-sister to Peace Rules; Kiddari, a half-sister to Forest Camp; Ritzy Jones, a half-brother to Silver Wagon and Rehoboth; and an unnamed filly out of major stakes winner Heritage of Gold.

Saarland (Unbridled-Versailles Treaty, by Danzig). While he won only one stakes race, the Remsen, Saarland had plenty of quality, as his pedigree would suggest. He was a fast-closing second, beaten only a neck by Aldebaran, in the Metropolitan Handicap at 4, and was also second (twice) in the Westchester Handicap and third in the Brooklyn Handicap. Some of his runners may develop early at 2 if they are out of mares by speed influences, but Saarland stood at Darby Dan Farm and was undoubtedly bred to many mares of classic quality, which should equate to success at 3 and older, when they stretch out in distance.

Safe in the U.S.A. (Gone West-Safely Kept, by Horatius). Bred for high speed from his sire and his dam (who was a champion sprinter), Safe in the U.S.A. won 5 of 16 starts without winning a stakes. Expect his

2-year-olds to have speed. They could be sneaky good plays on grass.

Sarava (Wild Again-Rhythm of Life, by Deputy Minister). A winner of two stakes from 17 starts, he will always be remembered as the winner of the 2002 Belmont Stakes, where he defeated Medaglia d'Oro and the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem. Sarava comes from a female line that produced Canadian champions Wilderness Song and Dance to Market. His offspring should develop slowly and be best at 3 and 4 at distances over one mile on all surfaces.

Scrimshaw (Gulch-Rogue Girl, by Sham). Winner of both of his starts at 2 in very fast time, Scrimshaw won the Lexington Stakes and was third in the Preakness and Santa Catalina stakes at 3. By the versatile Gulch, he should get 2-year-olds who are equally talented on dirt and turf.

Seattle Fitz (Fitzcarraldo-Hug a Slew, by Seattle Slew). By a top-class Argentine sire of 70 stakes winners, Seattle Fitz is an example of a Thoroughbred who was allowed to develop slowly and who became a three-time stakes winner at age 5. Unraced at 2, he was imported to the U.S. late in his 4-year-old season, when he showed quality finishing third in the Fayette Stakes and Queens County Handicap. He flourished at 5, winning the Brooklyn, Aqueduct and William Donald Schaefer handicaps and finishing second to Medaglia d'Oro in the Donn Handicap. With Fitzcarraldo on top and Seattle Slew, Never Bend, and Swaps as the first three damsires in his pedigree, his runners should have plenty of speed.

Shamardal (Giant's Causeway-Helsinki, by Machiavellian). Since he stands at stud in England, where he was a champion 2-year-old, the majority of his runners will race in Europe. If they do cross the pond, they should be highly regarded in turf events. He is by a top-class international sire, and his stakes-placed dam is a full sister to Dubai World Cup winner and leading young sire Street Cry.

Sir Cherokee (Cherokee Run-La Cucina, by Last Tycoon). Winner of the Arkansas Derby, Sir Cherokee was an example of a Cherokee Run (champion sprinter) who excelled at distances over one mile. There are plenty of turf influences in his pedigree, including Blushing Groom, Last Tycoon, and Grey Dawn II, so keep this in mind if they show up on turf. His fourth dam, stakes-placed Shy Dancer, was a stakes-producing machine. Her foals include Shy Dawn (dam of Opening Verse), Petite Rouge, Champagne Charlie, and Lady Dulcinea (dam of champion Heavenly Cause).

Smarty Jones (Elusive Quality-I'll Get Along, by Smile). A son of speed influence Elusive Quality, Smarty Jones was an aberration as he was successful at 1 1/4 miles. Never before or after has there been an Elusive Quality who has been effective at classic distances over nine furlongs. Smarty Jones should be a good sire of 2-year-olds because of his speed, and his offspring are expected to be excellent milers on dirt and turf. They may be able to stretch this speed to middle distances if they are out of mares by stamina influences.