Gray Attempt passed his initial stakes test in the December 22 Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds, dominating the six-furlong event gate to wire, and was flattered when the runner-up and third-place finisher came back to place in last Saturday’s Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds. He will stretch out to two turns against eight rivals in Friday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones, the first of four Oaklawn Park qualifiers in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
Contested over a mile on the opening-day program, the Smarty Jones awards 17 points to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1). It also features a short stretch drive with the sixteenth pole serving as the finish line.
Based at Oaklawn with Jinx Fires, Gray Attempt shipped to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl and netted a field-best 96 BRIS Speed rating for the comfortable one-length decision. Runner-up Manny Wah and third-placer Hog Creek Hustle earned points toward a Kentucky Derby berth last week, reversing positions in the Lecomte, and Gray Attempt can follow suit. The gray son of Graydar has posted a pair of local works in preparation including a recent five-furlong “bullet” move and Shaun Bridgmohan retains the mount on the speedy colt.
Gray Attempt is listed as the 5-2 morning line favorite.
Springboard Mile runner-up Bankit comes next at 7-2. One of three runners for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, who finished second last year with Combatant but is still seeking his first Smarty Jones victory, Bankit posted a sharp 5 ¾-length tally over New York-bred opponents in the October 20 Sleepy Hollow at Belmont Park two starts back. Ricardo Santana sticks with the Central Banker colt.
Long Range Toddy posted an 18-1 upset over his stablemate in the Springboard Mile and will try to back it up with regular rider Richard Eramia. The son of Take Charge Indy has been installed as the 4-1 third choice. Maiden winner Boldor, a non-threatening second in an entry-level allowance at Churchill Downs last out, completes the Asmussen trio.
Super Steed has been pegged at 9-2 after a fourth as the even-money favorite in the Sugar Bowl. A son of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, the Larry Jones-trained colt has rallied in all three starts including a sharp allowance tally at Churchill Downs two back. Super Steed dropped too far off the pace last time and is eligible to appreciate the added ground with new rider Terry Thompson.
Six Shooter rebounded from a troubled last-place effort in the Springboard Mile with a 1 ¼-length triumph in the January 5 Big Drama at Delta Downs. Stewart Elliott has the call for Paul Holthus. Forloveofcountry switched back to the main track with a 23-1 upset win over entry-level allowance foes at Churchill Downs and Joe Bravo takes over the reins on the Sky Mesa colt for Jimmy Divito. Expected longshots Jack Van Berg and Sleepy Eyes Todd complete the field.