March 18, 2005 |
Nestled in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains, an hour's drive from the capital of Little Rock and hundreds of miles from the nearest "big" city, Oaklawn Park appears a peculiar choice for the location of a racetrack. But Cherokee Indians were known to hold horse racing events here 200 years ago, and the thermal waters of the hot springs attracted tourists to the numerous bathhouses when the track held its first meeting in 1904, with licensed bookmakers conducting business on the grandstand lawn.
March 17, 2005 |
One year ago, everything John Servis planned at Oaklawn Park worked to perfection for his star pupil, Smarty Jones. The Philadelphia Park-based colt captured the Southwest, Rebel, and Arkansas Derby before heading to Louisville to win the Kentucky Derby and going to Baltimore to take the Preakness. His Arkansas victories in the Rebel and Arkansas Derby were combined with his Kentucky Derby triumph to gain a $5 million bonus offered by Oaklawn Park in its centennial year of racing.
March 7, 2005 |
Finally, some Kentucky Derby buzz. From Florida to Arkansas to California, 3-year-olds were out in force Saturday trying to show whether they truly are contenders for the Derby just 2 months away. Afleet Alex and Declan's Moon won in their long-awaited seasonal debuts, while High Fly soared to victory in the 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth Stakes at Florida's Gulfstream Park. The results solidified Afleet Alex and Declan's Moon's rankings as 1-2 in the latest Run to the Roses' Top 10, while High Fly moves in for the first time at No. 4. Alex Afleet won the Mountain Valley Stakes at Hot Springs, Ark., while Declan's Moon won the $200,000 Santa Catalina Stakes in Arcadia, Calif.
September 9, 2004 |
The road to the 2005 Kentucky Derby took an intriguing twist yesterday when Gulfstream Park revamped its racing schedule for 3-year-olds. The Florida Derby, traditionally run the second weekend in March, now will be held 3 weeks later on April 2, competing for top horses with three prominent Kentucky Derby preps on April 16 - the Arkansas Derby, Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial. The Kentucky Derby is May 7, with the major preps at Oaklawn Park, Keeneland and Aqueduct remaining in their usual slot of 3 weeks before the run for the roses at Churchill Downs.
June 4, 2004 |
After all the police escorts and the helicopters overhead, after thousands showed up in the early morning at a track by the Pennsylvania Turnpike to watch this horse gallop for one lap, after eight perfect rides by his jockey, the one they called Stew Who in Kentucky, after opposing trainers gave up talking about ways to beat him and just started calling him a freak . . . tomorrow, Smarty Jones races for immortality. Of course, he's not merely racing for the Philadelphia area in the Belmont Stakes.
May 10, 2004 |
To watch Smarty Jones gallop around a racetrack, flying, his head down, staring straight at a perfect angle . . . he is a natural. If we'd only seen him 10 weeks ago, long before the Kentucky Derby victory on May 1 and Saturday's Preakness Stakes. No matter what type of rein was put on him, Smarty Jones refused to settle down. "He was galloping like - leaping up in the air - he'd want to take off," said his exercise rider, Pete Van Trump. "When you did try to slow him down, then he'd throw his head and jump around and just land wrong on his legs.
May 4, 2004 |
Philadelphia-area TV viewers tuned into Smarty Jones' Kentucky Derby victory more than anything else on Saturday afternoon. Local ratings for the broadcast, which ran from 5 to 6:45 p.m., crushed golf on Channel 3, the hockey playoffs on Channel 6, NASCAR on Channel 29, and the 6:00 news on Channels 3 and 6. But nationally, 19 cities had a larger percentage of households tuned to the Derby telecast than Philadelphia, according to preliminary Nielsen...
May 2, 2004 |
Philadelphia, a town starved for a champion, finally got one yesterday. So what if he walks on four legs. In betting parlors and living rooms, bars and ballparks, Philadelphians watched in disbelief, then with roars, as Smarty Jones won the 130th Kentucky Derby going away - the first Philadelphia Park horse ever to win racing's most prestigious event. It was a sweet sip of champagne for a city of sports fans tired of the flat dregs of almost-but-not-quite winners. "If the Eagles can't win the Super Bowl, we'll take the Kentucky Derby," said Phillip Caufield, a customer service manager at the Turf Club betting parlor in Center City.
April 29, 2004 |
Though she and her husband envisioned the home they bought in this exclusive Gasparilla Island community as a place to relax and escape, Patricia Chapman has not been able to do either recently. Ever since their horse, Smarty Jones, won the Arkansas Derby earlier this month and became an unlikely favorite for Saturday's Kentucky Derby, life for the Chapmans has been one frantic gallop. "I've got a million things to do," she said while gulping down her coffee and oatmeal one morning last week and gearing up for another full day of Derby preparations, "but I can't seem to get off the phone.
April 10, 2004 |
Six months ago he was an unraced colt tucked away in a stall on the backstretch of Philadelphia Park, familiar only to his own connections. This afternoon, Smarty Jones faces a crucial final hurdle on his way to the May 1 running of the Kentucky Derby when he faces 10 opponents in the $1 million (Grade II) Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park (5:44 p.m., Channel 10). Smarty Jones began his career late after suffering a fractured skull in a schooling incident at the starting gate.