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Dec 14, 2012

Up the Backstretch: Parx Racing's Derby hopefuls

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

(Sports Network) - It will be nine years pretty soon since Smarty Jones came out of Philadelphia Park to win the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and came within one-length of becoming the first Triple Crown champion since 1978.

One of the races Smarty Jones won as a 2-year-old ahead of his 3-year-old season was the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes at the suburban Philadelphia facility now known as Parx Racing. The race was held last week and probably produced a pair of colts capable of making noise on the 2013 Triple Crown trail.

The seven-furlong stakes featured Smarty Jones' son Res Judicata who happens to be bred and owned by Pat Chapman and trained by John Servis. Chapman and her late husband Roy raced Smarty Jones who was also trained by Servis. Jeremy Rose, jockey for 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex, rides the colt. Res Judicata went off as the 7-10 favorite in the eight-horse field.

However, the 2-year-old from Chapman's Someday Farm could only finish second to 8-1 longshot Officer Alex. Ironically, Officer Alex was ridden to victory by Stewart Elliott, Smarty's jockey during the his Triple Crown campaign.

The two colts proved to be far and away the best horses in the race. Officer Alex, trained by Lynn Whiting, was racing in second early on but fell back to fourth with the favorite moving from fourth to second to first entering the stretch.

Res Judicata had a two-length lead at the top of the stretch with Officer Alex now in second. Elliott's mount began to rally to the lead as the favorite tired inside the furlong pole.

Officer Alex passed Res Judicata with a 100 yards to run and drove to victory a length in front of Smarty's kid. Res Judicata was 5 1/4-lengths ahead of third-place finisher Siete de Oros.

These two colts displayed far more ability than the other horses in the race to put them solidly on the path to the Triple Crown prep races.

Officer Alex has won two of three with the Pennsylvania Nursery his first stakes race. Trainer Lynn Whiting won the 1992 Kentucky Derby with Lil E. Tee, a Pennsylvania-bred like Smarty Jones and son.

Res Judicata came into the Nursery off a 6 1/2-length win in the Chris Elser Memorial Stakes at Parx Racing. He won at first asking at Penn National and was fourth at Parx in an allowance race.

Both Officer Alex and Res Judicata demonstrated significant ability in the Pennsylvania Nursery and both should be watched as the calendar turns to 2013.

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