In a bit of a different move, Oaklawn Park will host a Kentucky Derby prep race this Friday, on the track’s opening day.

The Smarty Jones is the first in a series of three prep races leading into the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn. The Smarty Jones is the 8th race on the opening day card and is set for a 1:52 PDT post.

Nine horses will go post with 17 (10-4-2-1) Derby points available.

Gray Attempt (5-2) out of the William Fires barn is your morning line favorite. After a fourth in his debut, Gray Attempt has come back to win two straight, including the Sugar Bowl December 22 at the Fair Grounds. Ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan in all three starts, the horse a is speed horse. He had a bullet work over the surface to prep for the race.

Bankit (7-2) sits as the second choice for trainer Steve Asmussen, who will saddle three horses in the race. The winner of two races in six starts draws the services of Ricardo Santana Jr., who was aboard in the last start, a fast-closing second in the Springboard Mile.

Long Range Toddy (4-1) was the winner of the Springboard at 18-1 for Asmussen. Richard Eramia is the pilot and has been up for all four starts, in which the horse has three wins. Likes to sit close to the pace and move in the lane.

Super Steed (9-2) is trained by Larry Jones and has one win in three starts – his maiden score. He got caught wide in the Sugar Bowl and finished fourth, seven-lengths back. Terry Thompson is up.

One intriguing runner is Boldor (8-1), Asmussen’s final horse in the race. He won his debut, then came back and was second in an optional claimer after bumping not long after the start. The works have been awesome over the track since the last start November 24 and if you are looking for a price place, this may be a good one to consider.

The 9th race on the card is a maiden special weight for 3-year-olds and bears watching for potential future prep runners.

Asmussen sends out Laughing Fox (5-1) a $375,000 purchase price. The horse has not hit the board yet in two starts but has drilled well over the track.

Proud Nation (2-1) was formerly in the Asmussen barn but the $225,000 purchase has since moved over to Joe Sharp. He was second in his last start as the heavy favorite.

Jones sends out Rising Star (10-1) a $325,000 horse that has under-whelmed in a pair of starts.

By Dennis Miller

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