01/21/2005 1:00AM

Smarty in training for breeding shed


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Life is good for Smarty Jones. Since he left the racetrack for Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., in a $39 million stud deal, the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner has been test-breeding, enjoying leisure time in his private paddock, and showing off for his many visitors.

He even has a personal assistant. That would be Molly Rosen, 19, who arranges farm tours for about 175 fans a week, not including the breeders who come to look him over. The free tours, which run about 45 minutes, are given most Tuesdays through Saturdays, strictly by appointment. Between his Aug. 16 arrival and Dec. 31, Smarty Jones had about 3,900 visitors, by Rosen's count.

Still, compared to the stresses of training and racing, life is comparatively sedate for Smarty at Three Chimneys, and he has adjusted to the change in pace, said stallion manager Sandy Hatfield.

"He's more relaxed now," she said. "He feels more at ease and seems happy."

Smarty, now 4, has gained 43 pounds since he arrived at Three Chimneys in August, and he's still growing, according to farm owner Robert Clay.

"When he first got here, we measured him, and he was 15-3 and a little bit," Clay said. "He'll be 16 hands by this time next year."

Smarty Jones, whi stands for a fee of $100,000, isn't being ridden for exercise yet, as Three Chimneys' other stallions are, but he is on a regular turn-out schedule.

"Before it got cold, he was out all night and up all day," Clay said. "Now he's out in that paddock from 7 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon, and he's being shown to a lot of breeders."

These days, Smarty Jones has training of a different sort: learning how to be a stallion in time for the mid-February opening of the breeding season. His test-breeding mate was Sally, a 10-year-old gray mare of unknown ancestry who, as Hatfield said, "broke in Point Given, War Chant, and Albert the Great."

"He did very well," Hatfield said of Smarty Jones's first lessons in the breeding shed. "He was very eager."

Eagerness is one thing, but professionalism also counts in the breeding shed. An inexperienced stallion can waste valuable time, accidentally injure a mare, or be a danger to his handlers. That makes preseason training all the more important, and Clay said Smarty Jones has passed all his tests with high marks.

"He's a professional and has been taught his manners, and everything is fine," Clay said. "I expect him to be a good breeder.

"He's just living the good life," Clay added. "Now all we need to do is get some good babies on the ground."

Graded winners on auction list

The Fasig-Tipton Kentucky auction house in Lexington has cataloged 547 horses for its Feb. 13-14 winter mixed sale.

Highlighting the catalog are graded stakes winners Sweet Win, winner of the Grade 2 San Clemente and third in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks last year; Betty's Wish, winner of the Grade 3 Pebbles Handicap and third in the Grade 2 Dahlia; Italian champion and Grade 3 winner Miss Vegas; and Venturi, an Irish Group 3 winner who is twice Grade 3-placed in North America.

Also featured are such stakes winners as Travelator, an earner of $435,986, Channing Way ($403,167), Scapade ($306,770), Lojo ($232,170), and Fond ($113,661).

The auction will offer 214 broodmare or racing prospects - including 43 stakes performers and 39 earners of more than $100,000 - and 176 broodmares. Young stallions Johannesburg, Malibu Moon, Orientate, Vindication, Touch Gold, and Yes It's True are among the covering sires on offer, as are established sires Gone West, Deputy Minister, Seeking the Gold, and Forest Wildcat.

Sessions will begin at 10 a.m. each day at Newtown Paddocks.

Group launches contest for children

The Kentucky Equine Education Project has announced it will hold an art and writing contest for Kentucky students. The contest is open to students in grades 4 through 8. Entrants will compete for cash prizes in the categories of art, essay, and poetry on the subject, "Why is the horse important to Kentucky?"

The entry deadline is Feb. 28, and winners will be announced on or before March 15. More information is available at www.horseswork.com.