01/16/2017 7:08PM

Uncontested all the way in Smarty Jones Stakes

Coady Photography
Uncontested and jockey Channing Hill win the Smarty Jones Stakes by 5 1/4 lengths Monday.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Uncontested was left alone on the lead in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes on Monday at Oaklawn Park and put on a show in the slop, winning off by 5 1/4 lengths while picking up 10 eligibility points for the Kentucky Derby.

Petrov, who made a run at the leader into the final turn, finished second, and it was another 4 1/2 lengths back to Rowdy the Warrior in third. Those horses, plus fourth-place finisher Warrior’s Club, also earned points on a sliding scale of 4-2-1.

The Smarty Jones, a one-mile race that ended at the sixteenth pole, was the first local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 15. The next race in the series is the Grade 3, $500,000 Southwest on Feb. 20, and that race is a target for Uncontested, said winning trainer Wayne Catalano.

Uncontested ($4.40) broke on top under Channing Hill and was up by a length through an opening quarter in 23.04 seconds. He increased his advantage through a half-mile in 46.21 seconds and six furlongs in 1:10.70 before winning in hand in 1:36.32.

“The speed that he’s got, we were going to take it out there and see,” Catalano said of the game plan Monday.

Hill said in the stretch, he took a little action to keep Uncontested’s mind on business.

“He doesn’t lollygag, but he can get a little lazy on you,” Hill told Oaklawn officials. “He was still moving forward, but I just gave him a few taps as a reminder about what we were doing today, and he absolutely cruised from there.”

Oaklawn opened its card with a sealed surface rated “wet-fast,” but rains hit around the fourth race, and by the fifth, the track was downgraded to “sloppy.” It rained on and off for a few more races, but it was clear for the Smarty Jones.

“You hate to see an off track for everybody, [but] sometimes it rains the first Saturday in May,” said Catalano.

Uncontested was favored following a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs, a race in which he was making his two-turn debut and broke from post 12. In his only other race, he had won a maiden special weight sprint on Oct. 19 at Keeneland, covering 6 1/2 furlongs in a quick 1:15.80 to earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 89.

Uncontested earned $90,000 for the Smarty Jones win, his second victory from three starts. He has now banked $135,300. Uncontested is a son of Tiz Wonderful. He races for Harry Rosenblum and Robert LaPenta, a partnership that won the 2015 Smarty Jones with Far Right. 

The remaining order of finish was Cu Rahy in fifth, Unbridled Eagle, Romeo O Romeo, and Love That Lute.

Attendance was estimated at 9,500 on Monday, and handle on the nine-race card from all sources was $3,257,973, according to figures from Oaklawn. The Smarty Jones closed out a four-day opening weekend. Racing resumes Thursday.