May 18, 2024

Uncontested blows away rivals in Smarty Jones

Uncontested lived up to his moniker with his wire-to-wire score in the Smarty Jones (Coady Photography)

Uncontested passed his first off-track test with flying colors and picked up 10 qualifying points toward Kentucky Derby (G1) eligibility with a gate-to-wire victory in Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park.

Away alertly and immediately sent to the front by Channing Hill over the sloppy going, Uncontested set a sensible pace of :23.04, :46.21 and 1:10.70 while not seriously challenged. Second choice Petrov took a run at the long-time leader approaching the quarter pole, but was easily turned away in upper stretch.

The 6-5 favorite in a field of eight three-year-olds, Uncontested cruised home by 5 1/4 lengths, completed the mile in 1:36.32 and paid $4.40. Petrov easily held second by 4 1/2 lengths over 9-1 chance Rowdy the Warrior, with third choice Warrior’s Club fourth. The distribution of Kentucky Derby qualifying points for the top four finishers was on a 10-4-2-1 scale.

“An off track is always a concern, but we worked him once over it and he handled it well,” trainer Wayne Catalano said.

“He’s the best horse I’ve owned as a young horse,” said a cheerful Harry Rosenblum, who co-owns the son of Tiz Wonderful with Robert LaPenta. Uncontested has now earned $135,300 for the partnership.

A six-length debut winner at Keeneland going 6 1/2 furlongs in October, Uncontested flashed speed before weakening to fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in late November. He earned one Kentucky Derby point for that latter effort, and will bring a total of 11 into his next start, most likely the $500,000 Southwest (G3) over 1 1/16 miles on February 20 according to Catalano. That race will also be worth 10 points to the winner.

Bred in Kentucky by Richard Forbush, Uncontested was a $20,000 Keeneland September purchase. He is out of the Lil E. Tee mare Galileo’s Star, making him a half-brother to Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) winner Solitary Ranger.

Broodmare sire Lil E. Tee finished third in the Southwest and second in the Arkansas Derby (G2) at Oaklawn before taking the 1992 Kentucky Derby.