‘Brewing’ Some Betting Strategies for the Smarty Jones Stakes

‘Brewing’ Some Betting Strategies for the Smarty Jones Stakes

Happy New Year!

A trio of Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve prep races will take place Saturday, Jan. 1, across the country to kick off 2022. By far the most competitive on paper is the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park, which drew a full field of 14 newly turned 3-year-olds.

From top to bottom, the Smarty Jones is stuffed with talent and potential. Narrowing down the contenders is difficult – there are so many viable options to consider. A case of some sort can be made for every horse in the field, so betting payoffs for exotic wagers (like the exacta and trifecta) should be hefty.

If there’s a horse we can count on, it’s probably #3 Home Brew, a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense out of the Tapit mare Omnitap. As a full brother (same sire [father] and dam [mother]) to Grade 2 Triple Bend Stakes winner Air Strike, Home Brew boasts a pedigree combining speed with stamina, a recipe for success racing one mile.

Indeed, Home Brew has already posted a notable victory over the track and distance of the Smarty Jones. After a couple of solid efforts sprinting for trainer Brad Cox, Home Bred tackled a one-mile allowance optional claimer on Dec. 4 at Oaklawn. The result? Home Brew seized the early lead and never looked back, drawing away down the homestretch to win by 3 ¾ lengths.

Home Brew did benefit from securing an easy lead, but there isn’t a ton of speed on paper in the Smarty Jones field, so another relatively relaxed trip should be in the offing on Saturday. Hot jockey Florent Geroux (a 26% winner at Oaklawn) retains the mount, and it’s worth noting Cox’s barn has been on fire at Oaklawn this meet, winning at a 39% rate.

If we count on Home Brew to deliver on top, then we can afford to spread a bit deeper underneath in hopes of cashing exacta and trifecta tickets. The following runners are the ones we’ll emphasize:

#1 Dash Attack: This Kenny McPeek trainee delivered a sharp victory in his first start racing one mile at Oaklawn, charging from fourth place to win by 1 ¼ lengths. McPeek trainees often improve off their debuts, so Dash Attack has the potential to step forward in the Smarty Jones.

#2 All in Sync: He displayed excellent tactical speed when nabbing a maiden sprint at Churchill Downs in November by 1 ½ lengths. Although All in Sync is bred for speed, he figures to secure a forwardly placed trip in the Smarty Jones and should benefit from avoiding traffic in this full field.

#10 Barber Road: Runner-up in the Lively Shively Stakes sprinting at Churchill Downs, Barber Road is also proven running long, posting a gate-to-wire victory in a $30,000 maiden claimer at Keeneland during the fall. Barber Road has plenty of tactical speed, and jockey Reylu Gutierrez has been ultra-hot lately, winning five stakes at Fair Grounds Dec. 26-27.

#14 Ben Diesel: A flashy debut winner racing 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs, Ben Diesel subsequently ran well in Churchill’s Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, tracking the pace before weakening late to finish fourth. Ben Diesel is bred to thrive running long, but he risks a wide trip while breaking from post 14.

Depending on how much budget you’ve allocated to spend, we’ll recommend two separate betting strategies. Both involve keying Home Brew on top of exotic wagers. The $12 strategy focuses on the exacta, while the $30 strategy goes bigger and bolder by adding a trifecta to the mix.

Wagering Strategy on a $12 Budget

$3 exacta: 3 with 1,2,10,14 ($12)

What to say at the betting window: Oaklawn Park, 9th race, $3 exacta 3 with 1,2,10,14

Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget

$3 exacta: 3 with 1,2,10,14 ($12)

What to say at the betting window: Oaklawn Park, 9th race, $3 exacta 3 with 1,2,10,14

$1.50 trifecta: 3 with 1,2,10,14 with 1,2,10,14 ($18)

What to say at the betting window: Oaklawn Park, 9th race, $1.50 trifecta 3 with 1,2,10,14 with 1,2,10,14

Good luck, and enjoy the race!