Jan 19, 2012
Junebugred is golden in Smarty Jones
By: SPORTS NETWORK
Hot Springs, AR (Sports Network) - Junebugred, ridden by Joe Bravo, held on to win Monday's $100,000 Smarty Jones Stakes to begin Oaklawn Park's series for three-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail. The 6-1 third choice covered the mile distance in 1:38.45 on a fast track.
In the 12-horse field On Fire Baby, the lone filly to start, went off as the 3-2 favorite with Optimizer at 2-1.
Breaking from the gate first was Laurie's Rocket followed by No Spin, Jake Mo, Junebugred and On Fire Baby. Laurie's Rocket and No Spin battled on the front end up the backstretch and into the far turn.
On Fire Baby, with Joe Johnson riding, was four wide around the final turn with No Spin, Laurie's Rocket and Jake Mo to her inside. Junebugred had dropped back on the turn as 17-1 longshot Reckless Jerry came running on the outside.
At the top of the stretch Junebugred found room along the rail with Jake Mo, On Fire Baby, Laurie's Rocket and Reckless Jerry to his outside. Trained by Steve Hobby, Junebugred was able to take the lead in late stretch and hold off the late running Reckless Jerry.
Junebugred was able post a neck victory over Reckless Jerry with On Fire Baby finishing third. Holding on for fourth was Jake Mo followed by Laurie's Rocket, Optimizer, Copus, Prince Cheval, King Coral, No Spin, Fastestwhogetspaid and Hard Nosed.
Owned by Alex and Joann Lieblong, Junebugred was making just his third career start in the Smarty Jones. The win was worth $60,000 to bring the chestnut colt's earnings to $95,400.
The three-year-old made his debut last October at Monmouth Park when he finished third as the 13-10 favorite. Six weeks later he broke his maiden at Aqueduct at 8-1.
"We started him off and he showed us some talent," said Hobby about the colt. "His first time out he hadn't had any dirt in his face and he got to hopping and jumping around like a lot of first-time starters do. We went and sent him to David (trainer David Fawkes) in New York to give him a shot on the track up there."
Junebugred returned $14.80, $7.00 and $4.60. Reckless Jerry paid $12.80 and $6.20, and On Fire Baby paid $2.60 to show.
Next for three-year-olds is the $250,000 Southwest Stakes on Monday, February 20 followed by the $500,000 Rebel on March 17 and $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 14.
The Smarty Jones Stakes is named for the 2004 champion three-year-old colt who won the Arkansas Derby along with the Run for the Roses and Preakness Stakes. The stakes was won last year by eventual Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile champ Caleb's Posse.
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