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HOT SPRINGS, AR – Shortleaf Stable homebred Caddo River proved why he was the 3/5 heavy favorite as he obliterated the competition in Friday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Caddo River broke alertly from the far outside post 7 under Florent Geroux, hustled toward the front, and received an uncontested lead after a rank Hardly Swayed finally took back.
Caddo River steadily extended his lead down the backstretch and through the far turn while strolling through easy opening fractions of :23.12, :47.16, and 1:12.42, then straightened for home with daylight behind him.
The Brad Cox trainee crossed 10 1/4 lengths clear while completing the mile-long fast dirt route in 1:38.19.
“He broke very alertly,” Geroux said. “Very nice and relaxed. You want to see these type horses doing it the right way. It’s easy to go to the lead and keep on going. You want them to relax and do everything right. He did everything perfect.”
The 2/1 second choice Cowan took second, 7 1/4 lengths in front of fellow Steve Asmussen trainee Big Thorn, who necked out Moonlite Strike for third.
Martini Blu and the distanced pair Hardly Swayed and Lawlessness completed the order of finish in the race restricted to 3-year-olds.
The Smarty Jones is part of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Caddo River earned 10 points for the win, with Cowan receiving 4 for second, Big Thorn 2 for third, and Moonlite Strike 1 for fourth.
Caddo River’s win backed up a strong maiden-breaking score going a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs and improved his overall record to 4-2-2-0. The Hard Spun colt increased his career earnings to $166,092 and may target the local 1 1/16-mile Rebel Stakes (G2) on March 13 for his next start.
“The distance doesn’t look like it’s going to be a problem,” Geroux said. “Very excited about what’s coming up ahead of us with him. Looks like he can run all day, which is a good problem. Hopefully, we can go on, go up the stepping stones and have a nice horse for the first Saturday in May.”
Caddo River returned $3.20 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show. Cowan brought back $2.60 to place and $2.20 to show, while Big Thorn paid $3 to show.
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