Gray Attempt earns Triple Crown nom with Smarty Jones win

Gray Attempt earns Triple Crown nom with Smarty Jones win
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Gray Attempt emerged in good order from his narrow victory in Friday's $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park and will be pointed for the track’s next 2019 Kentucky Derby points race, his trainer, Jinks Fires of Hot Springs, said Saturday.

Gray Attempt, who was ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 84 for his front-running neck victory over Long Range Toddy in the 1-mile Smarty Jones, the gray colt’s 3-year-old debut and first start around two turns.

“Everything went as planned, which is not always normal,” Fires said. “Shaun rode him great. He didn’t let us down on what we thought he was capable of.”

Fires said Gray Attempt will make his next start in the $500,000
Southwest Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 18 at Oaklawn. The colt earned 10 points toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby with Friday’s victory. Like the Smarty Jones, the Southwest will offer 17 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1).

Owned by Dwight Pruett of Texarkana, Ark., Gray Attempt has won three consecutive starts, including the $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes Dec. 22 at Fair Grounds to close his 2-year-old campaign. He has led at every point of call in his three victories and his final time in the Smarty Jones (1:36.94) was second-fastest in race history. The surface was rated fast.

“We had planned on it,” Fires said of going to the lead. “Everything went well.”

Pruett and Fires teamed to win the 2016 Smarty Jones with Discreetness, who finished seventh in the Southwest.

Fires said Gray Attempt was made Triple Crown eligible – the early fee is $600 – just before the early nomination period closed Saturday.

“Actually, I did it last night – after the race,” Fires said.

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