HOT SPRINGS, AR – No rider-trainer combination has been hotter than Norberto Arroyo Jr. and Cody Autrey since the start of the meet and on Monday, they combined to win the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes with Tanzanite Cat before a holiday crowd of 12,582.
The victory earned Tanzanite Cat 10 points based Churchill Downs’ criteria for making the Kentucky Derby and puts the Graeme Hall colt in line for Oaklawn’s other three-year-old races culminating with the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 12. Last year’s winner, Will Take Charge, was recently named Champion Three-Year-Old of 2013.
Coming off a front-running maiden score at Fair Grounds Dec. 8, Tanzanite Cat used similar tactics in the Smarty Jones. He vied for the lead throughout with Walt, racing side by side through an opening quarter in 23 and a half-mile in 47 1/5. The winner, who only had a head advantage at the top of the stretch, began to shake clear through the stretch and drew off to win by 1 ¼ lengths over Walt. Coastline, the 6-5 favorite, raced in third from the start and held that position at the end after making a mild bid around the final turn. The winning time was 1:38 3/5 over a fast track.
Son of a Preacher finished fourth and was followed by Fire Starter, A Step Ahead, Unstoppable Colby, Denali Rahy Ruler, D’Cajun Cat and Whyruawesome.
Tanzanite Cat has now won two of his three career starts and has earned $123,000 for owners James and Ywachetta Driver. He returned $20.20, $8.40 and $5.60.
Live racing at Oaklawn continues Thursday with a 1:30 p.m. first post. The next race in the track’s series for 3-year-olds is the $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 17, Presidents Day.