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Smarty Jones one race away from
Triple Crown and immortality
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By Jeff Mayfield

[MAY 17, 2004]  Mention the word "racing" around here lately and someone will surely tell you about the new, exciting races out at Lincoln Speedway. But if you are a horse racing fan, I hope that you have been able to catch Smarty Jones. If you have caught him, consider yourself lucky; no one else has!

Horse racing is another sport that I don't know much about, but that's not news to you faithful readers. What is news is the story surrounding Smarty Jones. If I understand it properly, at one point in Smarty's career the horse was left for dead. Smarty had developed an injury when he hit his head against an iron bar, and it looked like he was going to have to be put down. Fortunately, they tried some other veterinary techniques, and let's just say they worked. They worked exceptionally well.

The trainer, John Servis, worked his whole life in hopes of having a horse like this one. In fact, he refused to ever attend the Kentucky Derby, horse racing's crown jewel, unless he were to ever have a horse good enough to run and win the Derby. Enter one Smarty Jones. The owners, Pat and Roy Chapman, have never had a horse nearly this good either, and the jockey, Stewart Elliott, is a former felon who did not exactly have lots of other mounts available to him.

Smarty entered the Derby and was picked anywhere from second to fourth for the few weeks leading up to the Derby. As the story of Smarty Jones became a front-page story, the action picked up, and by race day Smarty was the odds-on favorite. Had they just asked Smarty, he would have told them! He won the Derby going away.


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From there it was on to Pimlico to perform in front of 112,668 delirious patrons (how's that for a crowd?). Smarty dashed out of the gate quickly and positioned himself where he was freed up to run. When he went around the far turn you wondered if anyone could stay with him. The answer was "no." Smarty won the race by an all-time record 11½ lengths… and you thought the semipro writer from Lincoln was making all this stuff up? Didn't you? Smarty dusted the field. He obliterated it.

Few horses have dominated racing the way Smarty Jones has. Should he win on June 5 at the Belmont before another 100,000-plus crowd, he will become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to have won the Triple Crown.

I don't know about you, but I'm pulling for Smarty Jones!

Have a great week, everybody!

[Jeff Mayfield]

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