The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 gets underway at Oaklawn Park on Monday with the $100,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and On Fire Baby takes on eleven boys from post 10 in the one mile test for 3-year-olds.
#10 On Fire Baby captured all three of her conventional dirt starts last year and she used a different style each time. She stalked the pace in her Ellis Park sprint debut, rallied in the G2 Pocahontas, and went wire-to-wire in the G2 Golden Rod. Her only off the board finish occurred when she dueled and weakened to 5th in the G1 Alcibiades at Keeneland (Polytrack).
She must overcome an outer post in Hot Springs on Monday and her speed figures are rather ordinary for a 2-time graded winner.
#4 No Spin could be the value play at 6-1. He was stuck out in post 12 in the $300,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Dec 10 and was hardly disgraced in a 4th place effort. He graduated in a synthetic sprint and impressed in a turf stakes tally at Hawthorne in October. Dirt might not be his best surface but I’m willing to take a shot if his morning line odds hold up.
#2 Junebugred earned a decent speed figure in a flat mile maiden win at the Big A on Nov 26. He is now under the care of Steve Hobby and should make his presence felt throughout under Joe Bravo at 5-1.
#5 Fastestwhogetspaid is not without a chance at 15-1. He graduated in a Maiden Claiming sprint but his numbers are going the right way and he looked good in an Optional Claiming route in Chicago Dec 28.
#12 Reckless Jerry has been part of the Trifecta in all five outings including a fine runner-up effort in the Springboard Mile. The improving tactical threat must work out a trip from post 12.
D Wayne Lukas will give #6 Optimizer another chance to shine on dirt. He graduated in his turf route bow and placed in a pair of graded events on turf and synthetic after that. In his two dirt starts he finished 8th in the G1 BC Juvenile and 4th in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He seems worth trying to beat on the win end at 5-2.
#1 Laurie’s Rocket would be the choice if this was a sprint as he has finished 1-2 in his four outings at 6.5 furlongs or less. He should sit a decent ground saving tactical trip but might find this trip a bit far and has a cold jockey-trainer team in his corner.
#8 Jake Mo could not keep up with the sizzling pace when last seen in the G3 Delta Jackpot. Both of his wins were accomplished in wire job fashion and he might have a hard time finding the lead in this salty spot.
#11 King Coral was dusted by Reckless Jerry in October and came back to flatter that one with his own Allowance triumph in Oklahoma on Nov 17. The stalk and pounce type is light on numbers.
#3 Prince Cheval has been competitive versus Illinois-bred company in his last three and might find these a bit tough to handle.
Illinois-bred #7 Copus exits a wire-to-wire maiden sprint win at Hawthorne and will likely fade after contesting the early lead.
#9 Hard Nosed was blasted in an Optional Claiming route at Fair Grounds on Dec 8 and looms a brief pace player at the most.
$16 to win #4
.50 cent Trifecta 2-4-10/ALL/5 ($15)
.50 cent Trifecta 2-4-10/2-4-10/2-4-5-10-12 ($9)