Smarty Jones' jockey, Elliott, returning to Oaklawn Park

The ultra-popular Smarty Jones retired from racing in 2004, but his jockey is still around. And for the first time in more than a decade, Stewart Elliott will be around Oaklawn as a regular member of the riding colony when the 2019 meeting begins Jan. 25.

Elliott, 53, spent the last few years based in Southern California but said he has relocated to the Midwest to be closer to home.

“Kind of got homesick, actually,” Elliott said Wednesday morning. “My house has been sitting empty for three years in Kentucky. Just kind of wanted to get out of California, I guess. It was good. I planned on going for like a year and ended up being there for three years.”

Elliott rocketed to stardom in 2004 by guiding Smarty Jones to within a length of the Triple Crown.

Trained by John Servis, Smarty Jones wintered in Hot Springs and was named the country’s champion 3-year-old male after winning Oaklawn’s Southwest Stakes, Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby and the first two legs of the Triple Crown. The colt collected Oaklawn’s $5 million “Centennial Bonus” by sweeping the Rebel, Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby and graced the cover of Sports Illustrated after winning the Run for the Roses. The Centennial Bonus commemorated Oaklawn’s 100th anniversary.

Elliott rode regularly at Oaklawn in 2006 and 2007, recording a combined 53 victories.

“It’s always been a fun meet, a good meet,” Elliott said. “The people are so into it and everything. Like the first night I pulled in here, I went into the restaurant and the lady, I guess with my size, she figured I was a jockey. People are just so into the racing. It’s kind of like a different place, really.”

Elliott’s agent is Jay Fedor, who represented another Southern California-based rider at last year’s meeting, the now-retired Hall of Famer Gary Stevens. Elliott said he and Fedor had discussed returning to Oaklawn in 2018, adding Stevens eventually recommended the agent.

Elliott has had only three mounts at Oaklawn since 2007. Overall, he has 58 victories in Hot Springs, including 11 stakes.

“I always loved it here,” Elliott said. “Kind of good timing to come over here.”

 

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