‘A Serious Horse’: Maiden Winner Caddo River To Point For Smarty Jones

Powerful maiden winner Caddo River will make his stakes and two-turn debut in the $150,000 Smarty Jones for 3-year-olds Jan. 22 at Oaklawn, the colt’s trainer Brad Cox said Tuesday morning.

The one-mile Smarty Jones is Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby points races, a series that continues with the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15, $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) March 13 and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 10.

A homebred for Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony’s Shortleaf Stable, the lightly raced Caddo River finished second in his first two career starts in New York, both 7 furlongs, before concluding his 2-year-old campaign with a front-running 9 ½-length maiden victory Nov. 15 at Churchill Downs. Caddo River, as the odds-on favorite, covered a mile over a fast track in 1:35.22 to earn a career-high 104 Equibase speed rating, a 15-point increase over his previous start.

“He’s a very good colt,” Cox said. “He ran against two really good colts in New York. He was able to break his maiden, one turn at Churchill. He’s big, tall, rangy, leggy colt. I really do think that he’s going to be better around two turns. He’s got what I think it takes to be a serious horse. He’s got speed and he can carry it.”

Caddo River has been based at Oaklawn since late December and already logged two half-mile workouts locally, including a :48 move over a fast track Sunday morning that ranked the third-fastest out of 85 published at the distance.

Caddo River is by 2007 Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun and out of the Anthony-raced Pangburn, an allowance winner at the 2015 Oaklawn meeting. Pangburn then finished third in the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) and fourth in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3), Oaklawn’s two biggest events for 3-year-old fillies. All three races were 1 1/16 miles.

“It appears as though he can carry it,” Cox said, referring to Caddo River’s speed. “We’ll find out this next race around two turns, but I think he’s a very, very good colt.”

Cox has several other promising Kentucky Derby prospects, notably probable juvenile champion Essential Quality, who is unbeaten in three career starts. The Fair Grounds-based Essential Quality is under consideration for the Southwest, Cox said.

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