Smarty Jones Tribute

 The following story first appeared in the April 28, 2007 issue of Blood-Horse magazine, with a few additions thrown in. This feature, about Team Smarty and what became of everyone, will kick off our “Smarty Jones Tribute Week,” in preparation for his departure for Uruguay next month. Each day we will reprint some of our favorite Smarty Jones stories and try to recapture one of the most extraordinary chapters in racing history. We reprinted our recaps of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 2009, so we will not include those (they can be found on the Hangin’ With Haskin blog archives, Dec. 13 and 15).  All the stories reprinted this week also will be archived as soon as they are replaced by a new one. At the conclusion of this story we have provided a more recent update on the team members and Smarty himself.

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The Candles Will Never Dim on Smarty Party

A cold, early April rain beat against the sheet-metal rooftop of Barn 11 on the Philadelphia Park backstretch. Inside, the shedrow was eerily empty for 8 a.m., normally a peak hour for activity. But on this morning, not a horse or person stirred. Then, a sole figure appeared around the corner of the shed, pushing a wheelbarrow. Groom Thelma Aguila, the only employee of trainer John Servis on duty, was making her morning feeding rounds.

This was a Wednesday, the “slow day” in Servis’ barn. After the horses walk, the barn shuts down, and the only sounds are the horses nickering for their breakfasts. Peering over the webbing in Stall 38, unaware of the hallowed ground on which she stood, was the 4-year-old filly Missile Warning. Three years ago, this was the home of one of the most exalted equine heroes Thoroughbred racing has ever known.

Yes, it’s been three years since those glorious, frenzied days when Smarty Jones ruled the racing universe and captured the hearts of a nation. And to the city of Philadelphia he was as revered as the fictional character of Rocky, to whom they erected statues. Who can forget those two magical Saturday mornings between the Derby and Preakness and Preakness and Belmont when approximately 5,000 and 9,000-- fans, respectively, jammed Philly Park just to watch Smarty gallop. People waited for hours, some arriving at 5 a.m., and then dashed through the doors to secure a spot by the rail, many with young children in tow or on their shoulders. The majority of kids were decked out in Smarty Jones t-shirts or caps. “Smartymania” had swept the country.

Now, Barn 11, although still adorned with two Smarty Jones banners, is once again just another barn on the Philly Park backstretch. Gone are the TV and radio station helicopters whirring overhead. Gone are the hordes of media that made the unlikely pilgrimage here during the Triple Crown. And gone are the police escorts and Pentagon-like security. Smarty still is the last horse to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated and was scheduled to be the cover boy for Time magazine had he won the Belmont. He even was featured on A&E’s “Biography.”

For Servis, this is a time for rebuilding. His gaudy $8.9 million in earnings accumulated during Smarty Jones’ magical year in 2004 dwindled down to slightly more than $1 million in 2006. This year, through April 17, he has won nine races from 80 starts for earnings of $235,000, while splitting his stable between Philly Park and Oaklawn.

A major blow was losing his longtime client Rick Porter, who took with him eventual Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Round Pond and Triple Crown contender Hard Spun, whom Servis picked out as a yearling. But with the increase in purses in Pennsylvania, Servis has taken on several new and influential clients, and has a barnful of horses.

Servis hasn’t been the only member of the Smarty Jones team who has had to make major adjustments following Smarty’s premature retirement. Exercise rider Pete Van Trump, groom Mario Arriaga, and assistant trainer Maureen Donnelly are no longer with him. Only foreman and hotwalker Bill Foster, and exercise rider and assistant Bobby Velez remain.

Van Trump gallops a few horses in the morning for trainer Patricia Farro, and helps out his girlfriend, trainer Diane Day, doing chores around the barn. On most afternoons he heads up to jockey Stewart Elliott’s farm in Lambertville, N.J., and takes care of the 20-acre establishment while Elliott is away riding. Arriaga returned home and bought a coffee plantation in Guatemala with the money he earned from Smarty, and now rubs horses for trainer Ramon Preciado. Donnelly left Servis only a few weeks ago.

Foster became involved in a relationship and eventually lost all the money he made from Smarty, as well as the new truck he purchased from Smarty’s owner, Roy Chapman. He took a part-time security job in the recreation hall on the Philly Park backstretch, and last fall returned to Servis’ barn as manager. In December, he was run over by a horse in the shed and has since undergone knee surgery and physical therapy, while collecting workmen’s compensation.

Smarty’s co-owner, Pat Chapman, has been trying to keep busy following the death of her husband, Roy, in February 2006. She divides her time between Bucks County, Pa., and Boca Grande, Fla., where she is involved in community work. She also has three horses in training with Servis.

To many, it seems like only yesterday that the name Smarty Jones was on everyone’s lips, as hundreds of thousands of letters came pouring in to the Servises and the Chapmans. One person who became caught up in “Smarty Mania” was Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

“It was such a great story, for me personally and as a sports fan,” Rendell said. “I went to the Preakness and sat with the Chapmans. I’m a great football, baseball, and basketball fan, but when Smarty started blowing the field away, it was as thrilling a moment as I can remember in sports. The Belmont was an absolute zoo, and there were so many people from Philadelphia there. When they saw me in the stands, I stood up and led them in a cheer: ‘Gimme an S…gimme an M…gimme an A…’ It was crazy; people were going nuts.

“All I kept thinking was, ‘How are we going to have a parade for Smarty? You can’t put this valuable horse on a flatbed truck.’ The town was starved for a winner, and Smarty was our champion. I thought it was going to happen at the top of the stretch, but then it all began to unravel before our eyes. It was the saddest thing I can remember in sports. I was so depressed I couldn’t shake it off for weeks. But it was a great ride.”

Rendell credits Smarty Jones for playing a major role in the state getting slot machines. “As Smarty caught fire, and it hit home, he absolutely captured the imagination of the legislature,” he said. “All of a sudden horse racing was big in Pennsylvania, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that Smarty got us the extra votes that we needed down the stretch, and that his tremendous run helped us pass the law.”

Servis is now hoping to reap those rewards, as he awaits the deluge of purse money that is expected this summer. He has put the Porter breakup behind him and is looking forward to training for new outfits, such as WinStar, Vinery, and Little Red Feather Racing, the syndicate that owned 2004 NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Singletary.

“I didn’t know much about John other than what I had seen from Smarty,” said Little Red Feather manager Billy Koch. “But he was recommended by one of my partners, Bob Brittingham (part-owner of Afleet Alex). I flew to Philly and met with John over breakfast, and I realized this guy is a true horseman. When I left the meeting I knew John was our guy.”

Servis still finds it hard to believe all that has happened since Smarty. “It took a while for it all to sink in,” he said. “It’s like the last three years have flown by. It just doesn’t seem like it was that long ago.”

He recalls driving with Stewart Elliott shortly after Smarty’s retirement and telling him, “You know, Stew, what this horse has done for horse racing, people are going to be talking about Stewart Elliott long after you’re dead and gone, buddy.”

Soon, there likely will be another Servis, in addition to John and his brother Jason, training horses. Servis’ 16-year-old son Tyler began galloping horses at a farm in Lancaster, Pa., last summer after working a summer at Taylor Made Farm near Nicholasville, Ky., and now has joined his father part-time. “He really loves the horses,” Servis said. “He’s hooked.”

Servis admits he was disappointed when Pete, Mario, and Maureen left. “Smarty bought Maureen a house, he bought Pete a house and a pickup truck, and he bought Mario the coffee plantation,” he said. “They did real good, believe me. But when you’re working together with people seven days a week things can get tough.”

Pat Chapman cherishes the memories of Smarty, and was happy that Roy, who suffered from emphysema, was able to enjoy them while still in relatively good health. “It was such an incredible time,” she said. “It was like living a movie. My only regret was the negative press we received when we retired him. There was a great deal of misunderstanding, and I think we got a bad rap, because there was so much the media wasn’t aware of regarding the extent of his injury. My husband and I went through the letdown that everyone goes through who comes down after being on top of the mountain. But our letdown was a lot different, because we went down being crucified.

“Those things, however, don’t take away from all the great moments we had. And the timing was unbelievable, because my husband died less than two years later. We had bought a new house in Doylestown when we knew Chappy was approaching the end, and we needed to have him in a place that was easier to get around. We moved there in November 2005, and he only spent one month there. After we went to Florida for the winter, he went downhill rapidly.”

Pat said she has been keeping busy and is helping Barbaro’s owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, in their quest to build a racing museum devoted to the top horses from the Maryland/Pennsylvania/Delaware region. “I’ll be so supportive of anything they want to do,” she said. “They’ve been so wonderful for horse racing.”

Foster, who is happy to be back working with the horses again, said he and Servis talk about Smarty all the time. “That will never happen again,” he said. “It was an unbelievable time. A lot has happened since. I met a lady and we had two horses together, one of whom is a pretty nice horse named Mr. Boxcar, who’s made over $60,000. But unfortunately, I ran out of money and haven’t made any from the horse. We race him under the name Smarty’s Gift Stable.

“I spent a lot of money and we made some investments. As it turned out, I couldn’t afford the payments on my truck anymore and lost that. I don’t want to make this into a sad story. I just lost my money and have had to start all over. That’s when I started working in the afternoons as a security guard in the rec hall. I was at John’s house for Easter, and he wasn’t happy, because he wasn’t winning a lot of races. John’s a good guy and we talked about all the success we had together. After Maureen left, he called me and asked me if I’d like to come back to the barn as manager.”

Foster had been laid up for a while after his accident, in which he was holding a horse that was being shod. The horse got spooked and stepped into the blacksmith’s tray of nails. That spooked him even more and he lunged forward, hitting Foster in the knee, knocking him to the ground. Foster suffered five bone chips and torn cartilage, which necessitated surgery. But that is all in the past. “I’m happy to be back with John,” he said. “This is where I belong.”

As for Van Trump, his split with Servis was not an amicable one. “I see John on the backstretch, but I don’t say anything to him,” he said. “Right now, I go up to Stu Elliott’s farm in the afternoons and do work for him while he’s away. He has no horses there, but there’s plenty to be done, like taking care of the yard and chopping firewood. In the mornings, after getting on a few horses, I help out my girlfriend, cleaning the stalls, hotwalking, and hauling her horses.”

Van Trump still has one remnant from the Smarty days that grabs people’s attention. “I have a Smarty Jones sticker on my truck, and people will look at it and say things like, ‘Oh, yeah, I know who you are,’ or ‘Look, there goes Smarty,’ ” he said.

Donnelly, who ran the barn at Philly Park in 2004 while Servis was at Oaklawn and Churchill Downs, tried to get used to life after Smarty, but admitted it wasn’t easy at first.

“It was tough getting back to reality, especially when the next day you’re running a horse for a $4,000 claiming tag,” she said. “But having all the horses in the barn kept you pretty busy. I worked for Jan and John Nerud through most of the ’80s, and as John would always say, ‘You’re gonna have good horses and you’re gonna have bad horses, but you always get that same feeling when you’re in the winner’s circle.’ All I know is that I was able to buy a house in Bensalem because of Smarty. He paid for my down payment.”

Smarty, of course, was retired to Three Chimneys Farm, where he greeted hundreds of visitors each week. Perhaps his most special guest was 9-year-old Patrick Monroe from Long Island. As an infant, Patrick suffered from water on the brain and had to have surgery to place tubing inside his body to move the water from his brain to his abdomen. When he was 4, the tube malfunctioned on Christmas Eve night and he awoke Christmas morning to the realization he was blind. Then, in late 2003, his father, a Long Island firefighter, passed away. Months later, Patrick discovered horses and began taking riding lessons at Pal-O-Mine Equestrian for kids with disabilities.

For the first time in his life Patrick had a sense of freedom. He had found euphoria on the back of a horse and eventually would win numerous ribbons for riding. Patrick had only one wish – to meet his favorite athlete, Smarty Jones. All he wanted to do was touch him. Through the Make-a-Wish Foundation and ESPN’s My Wish Series, Patrick was brought to Three Chimneys Farm to meet his hero. Wearing his Smarty Jones hat, he was taken to the horse by farm owner Robert Clay, and with a perpetual smile on his face proceeded to stroke Smarty along his withers, on his neck, and on the side of his head. He then was brought outside as Smarty was being turned out, so he could hear him galloping at full speed across his paddock. From the look on his face, he clearly could see the horse in his mind’s eye. Before leaving, Patrick was given a braided lock of Smarty’s mane, as well as other gifts. That lock of mane would be proudly displayed alongside his ribbons, a reminder of one of the most memorable days of his life.

That is just one example of the effect Smarty Jones had on people. No one, however, was affected by the horse more than those who worked with him every day and lived through that incredible eight-week fairy tale from the Arkansas Derby to the Belmont Stakes.

Although they came from different walks of life, and most have gone their separate ways, the group known as Team Smarty banded together for one brief, but magical, moment to become a part of something so special it transcended the Sport of Kings and carved its place in racing lore for all time.

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This story (minus several additions) appeared in the Blood-Horse magazine four years ago. To update what we have been able to find out, John Servis is still training at Philly Park and is doing well enough to remain content, even though he has not had a major stakes horse since Smarty. He has become actively involved with the horsemen’s association and has a radio spot on KYW 1060 AM, where he expounds on the many virtues of slots in Pennsylvania. Bill Foster is now Servis’ nightwatchman and Bobby Velez works as Servis’ foreman, but no longer exercises horses. Pete Van Trump is still working with the horses trained by his girlfriend Diane Day, and Maureen Connelly reportedly has left the racetrack. Pat Chapman still divides her time between Florida and Doylestown, Pa. and also spends a good deal of time in Maryland. She still races a few horses. Stewart Elliott, like Servis, hasn’t had a major horse since Smarty, but did pass the 4,000-win mark, and is now  up to 4,343 career wins  through June 16.

Smarty Jones’ main contribution to Pennsylvania is being a major impetus in the state getting slots , as Gov. Rendell said,  and his one-time home, Philadelphia Park, is now called Parx Racing at Philadelphia Park and is part of a new glittering complex that includes a state-of-the-art casino next door to the track. Sadly, there is no statue or reminder of any kind of the horse who put the racetrack on the map and enabled it to boost purses from the slots and draw many of the country’s top stars over the past few years, such as Morning Line, First Dude, Blind Luck, and Havre de Grace last year alone. Sculptor Jean Clagett had been commissioned by Philly Park to do a statue of Smarty, and did deliver the cold casting last September and the completed bronze in early December. But she said she has not heard a word back from Philly Park officials since, despite constant efforts to contact them. Our luck hasn’t been any better. After receiving payment, she has put the project behind her and gone on to other things. Only time will tell if Smarty’s much-deserved statue will ever be displayed at Philly Park.    

As for Smarty himself, he was never really given a chance in Kentucky, despite siring multiple graded stakes winner Backtalk; graded stakes winner Rogue Romance, who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and considered a top Kentucky Derby contender before getting hurt;  graded stakes winner and grade I-placed Gilded Gem; Federico Tesio winner and grade III Pegasus runner-up Concealed Identity; grade I Alcibiades runner-up Be Smart, as well as stakes winners in Japan and Puerto Rico. He was being bred to only 50 mares at Three Chimneys Farm when Pat Chapman pulled the plug and shipped him back home to Pennsylvania to stand at Ghost Ridge Farms near York, Pa., where he was bred to about 80 mares this year. Stallion manager Dan Suttle said “it’s been fun” working with Smarty. “He has a rock star attitude,” he added. “It’s like he knows what he did. People who come visit him love that he’s back in Pennsylvania and has come full circle. It’s going to be a bittersweet day next month when he leaves.”

Smarty is scheduled to depart next month for Uruguay, where he will be bred to approximately 100 mares before returning to Ghost Ridge in December. In Uruguay, he will take up residence at Haras Cuatro Piedras, owned by Claudia (Rosas) and Pablo Salomone, a young affable couple who have developed the farm into one of the finest breeding establishments in the country. The farm is located in the region of Progreso, about 30 minutes from the capital city of Montevideo. Having been to Haras Cuatro Piedras and treated to a wonderful dinner, a stallion show, and the warm hospitality of the Salomones, I  have no doubt Smarty will be well taken care of.  Other American-raced stallions who stand or have stood at Cuatro Piedras are Real Quiet, who stood one year there before returning to the U.S., where he died in a paddock accident at Penn Ridge Farm in Pennsylvania in 2010; Mane Minister, and Eyeofthetiger. Two other farms – Nahuel and Virginia – have also been instrumental in bringing Smarty to Uruguay and, along with Cuatro Piedras, will fill the vast majority of his book.

“We are really excited because of Smarty Jones,” Claudia Rosas said. “He is arriving in Uruguay on the 12th of July. This is an incredible opportunity for Uruguay to receive such a successful stallion for this season. He will breed approximately 100 mares. We will accommodate the horse at the farm and will take part in 50% (of his mares).

“To be prepared to receive important stallions like Smarty Jones we have constructed a new building to put up the stallions and we are just finishing a small hospital.

“Unfortunately, Real Quiet died last season in Pennsylvania, so we have only one crop that we will sell next year, but his foals are really marvelous.”
 

Tuesday: Smarty’s Preakness recap

47 Comments

Leave a Comment:

tcc

Steve:

Great Story,

After sorting thru all the horses that were listed on the Las Vegas future wagers, I decided that Smarty Jones was the horse that would win the Kentucky Derby in December of the year previous to the Derby, his odds were 350-1 at that time, unfortunately I wasn't in Vegas at that time. His pedigree really looked like a Derby distance horse. I remember saying to my son that Smarty Jones would the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but not the Belmont.

19 Jun 2011 10:10 PM
Mike Relva

STEVE

Thanks for the information regarding Smarty/connections. One of my regrets is I never made it to visit him before he left for PA.

19 Jun 2011 10:31 PM
catmom

What a good idea Steve H.  It sounds like Smarty landed in the land of roses!  A vacation and ladies in mass! Hope someone gives him a beer or two to keep up his strength!  Ha :)Steve keep the good stuff coming... Thanks,

19 Jun 2011 10:55 PM
Linda in Texas

Mr. Haskin - some things get to me,

some things don't. Smarty Jones always will.

I love Smarty Jones and all who stood with him and for him and most of all the joy he brought the Chapmans.

So well written. Thank you and

Amen. Safe trip Smarty Jones and Good Luck in Uruguay and be sure to come home for Christmas.

19 Jun 2011 11:10 PM
Sue MacGray

Wonderful story Steve. I watched those 3 races and was crushed when Smarty lost the Belmont. So close.... What a game little horse he was. I really thought he would do it. Hopefully he has some success in Uruguay and then comes back to the US where he belongs. I'd love to visit him in Pennsylvania some day.

19 Jun 2011 11:26 PM
Karen in Texas

Steve, simply no one can tell these stories as well as you. It would be such a travesty if Smarty's statue is not displayed in its proper place as intended. Maybe public input would help...

19 Jun 2011 11:35 PM
Katie L.

Thansk for the story

For me Smarty will always be the horse who brought me into the sport. I grew up reading books like The Black Stallion and thinking about racing, even if I'm live so far away from any race track. Than 1 day I discover accidently the link of the official Derby website, just couple of days before Derby 04 and looked a couple of videos of the preps. I decided just for fun to pick 2 names of horses I saw win races, two names came out: Smarty jones and Limehouse

I can't express how excited I was during the race, I remember the exact words of the call of the final strech still so many years later. And during the Belmont, my excitement was so high. Everytime something bad happen to the sport or every year that we don't have a Triple Crown winner and I'm thinking ''Why do I love this sport and keep following?'', the answer can be explain in 2 words: Smarty jones

19 Jun 2011 11:51 PM
The Deacon

Very heart felt story Steve, still brings sadness to my eyes. I think America wanted Smarty to win the Triple Crown in the worst way. If ever there was "America's horse" it was Smarty Jones. For some reason he reminded me somewhat of Northern Dancer, argueably the greatest sire in American racing history.

20 Jun 2011 1:40 AM
A Horsey Canuck

Fantastic piece..as usual, Steve. I'm looking forward to a week of "keepers" for my Steve Haskin binder and electronic folder. I was lucky enough to visit Smarty at 3C in 2006 and have all kinds of photos and videos of him. I also watched his bid for the Triple Crown on TV. Took me weeks to get over that. I'm going back to 3C in a couple of weeks, but it won't seem the same without Smarty. I'm sad that he is leaving PA, but thrilled that he will be able to pass along his greatness to mares in Uruguay. Thanks again, Steve. He was certainly one in a million!

20 Jun 2011 8:39 AM
MD

Thank you, Mr. Haskin, for reminding me (us) of the incredible journey on which Smarty took so many people--including myself.

Doubt you would remember it but we shared quite a few thoughts & feelings  (in 2004) about Smarty & the human entourage that surrounded him at the track.

As I recounted to you at the time: The Smarty experience--through convolutions too tiresome to recount here, launched me into thoroughbred & other horse-breed rescue (which has included over the years frequent visits to the horrific auctions in New Holland, PA, where we often do battle with the slaughters).

This in turn led me to work at a private horse-rescue facility in Harper's Ferry where I helped care for & start (for riding under tack) several Canadian-born PMU mares & foals.

Eventually, in 2006, I took the final plunge & adopted an off-the-track-thoroughbred, who was bred in Pennsylvania & is the great,great, great Grandson of none other than Bold Ruler.

We dedicate ourselves to learning & practicing elementary classical (i.e., non-competition-based) dressage & striving to enhance our (mutual) biomechanics so that we both can remain sound with advancing age.

I continue, though in a much smaller way, my work in horse rescue.

Smarty's shining moment launched us on a path that we could have never anticipated--& that included the moving email exchanges I shared with you.

Although I regard the thoroughbred breeding & racing industries with no small measure of skepticism, I will never, in truth, be able to stifle the thrill I get when I see thoroughbreds racing at full speed  down the stretch.

Here's to you, Smarty: I love you.  Safe journey & I hope you will return soon.

My hat is off to you, Mr. Haskin.

20 Jun 2011 8:58 AM
mrullo

steve,

I disagree with you, this horse has been a dud at stud.

Breeders dont ship you out of kentucky for no reason.

20 Jun 2011 9:01 AM
Giddyup

Some of my friends ask "Why are you such a horse racing nut?...it makes no sense". The answer is in great stories like this. What a shame some people can't feel that magic.

20 Jun 2011 9:02 AM
Linda in Texas

I read Bloodhorse.com before i take my first shot of coffee in the morning. So with that said Mr. Haskin, CONGRATULATIONS are in order and more than well deserved and earned for your First Place Award for Hangin' With Haskin in The Equine-Related Blog Division for your superb articles that always spur our interests and keep us checking in several times a day.

And Thank You.

20 Jun 2011 9:22 AM
Jacklyn

Once again Steve, you brought tears to my eyes reading this story. Superbly written!  Your articles really need to be published in Sports Illustrated! The 1st Derby I attended Smarty won in the slop!  I bet him and won! He was gorgeous in the paddock. I don't understand why he wasn't successful at Three Chimneys.  There hasn't been another 3 year old like him.  I wish him a safe journey and hope he returns to the U.S. in good health.  He's my favorite Stallion.  They should breed Rachel Alexandra to him.  Speed and more Speed! It broke my heart when Birdstone beat him in the Belmont.  He really was the best horse.  Thanks for keeping his accomplishments fresh in our memories.

20 Jun 2011 9:24 AM
Don from PA/DE

Thanks Steve, I had no idea of all this background etc., was able to go visit SJ this past fall at an open horse day, took some nice photos of him and El Dubai two real horse rock stars....Don

20 Jun 2011 9:49 AM
Steve Haskin

Linda in Texas, lol, I actually had no idea my blog had won the AHP First Place Award until I read your comment. Thanks for pointing that out and the congrats. I appreciate it.

Thanks to everyone else. Glad you liked the story. There are about a half-dozen more to come -- one each day this week.

20 Jun 2011 10:12 AM
Zookeeper

"“Hangin’ With Haskin” was honored for first place in the Equine-Related Blog category. Senior Correspondent Steve Haskin was commended for his “well-written and researched” posts of May 6, Sept. 12, and Nov. 11 that had “excellent photos to accompany text.”

It's because of articles like this one. It's nice to know that "Haskinites" are not the only people who appreciate your talent. Congratulations Mr. Haskin!

20 Jun 2011 10:59 AM
Delrene

Dear Steve - The tears are running down my cheeks.  I absolutely loved your article.  I did not see the Bloodhorse tribute in 2007 but having read it now, an amazing story, filled with joy and heartbreak.  I went to Kentucky the year that Smarty went to Three Chimney's and visited him at his barn .  What a handsome boy he is.  It was my first experience in Kentucky and I soaked as much as I could into my heart and soul.  Went to Old Friends too , but Smarty was the highlight and of course Churchill Downs.  Ever since I have been hooked.  Your articles are incredible and I've got plans to catch up on the archives as best as I can.  Keep them coming and I look forward to Smarty's update.  Good luck and come back to us safe sound.  Bless Mrs. Jackson and Mr. Servis and Stewart Elliott.  Wonderful people.

20 Jun 2011 11:17 AM
edrul427

Steve,once more this is great to read.Enjoy very much

20 Jun 2011 11:49 AM
Fran Loszynski

I remember the story of the little convent of nuns that made sure the jockey had a St. Christopher's medal the saint of travel under his saddle. How could he not win! It was from watching his races, I saw another Philly horse the following year, that I fell in love with Afleet Alex. My best friend Brenda who never knew anything about horseracing said one day "Gee, I like that Smarty!" She enjoyed every race after that till she found out she had lung cancer. I played him every race after that and watched her smile when he won. I will bring it up a thousand times until it is done:"Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex for the Hall of Fame!" They affected children and nuns and just plain all of us. Philly's pride.

20 Jun 2011 11:52 AM
Steve Haskin

Zookeeper, I thought Runflatout ran a super race in the Affirmed and I think he's got a big shot to win the Swaps if that's where they decide to run him. I would even give him a good shot to win the Haskell. I really liked the way he was running down the stretch. Good luck with him. He's just now getting good.

20 Jun 2011 11:57 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Delrene. I appreciate it.

20 Jun 2011 11:58 AM
Jenna M.

Thank you so much for publishing these stories again.  Great, great writing. What a kind tribute to a beautiful animal. I hope the travel is OK for him. Also, will he have have enough rest before the season begins in February '12? I hate to be a worry-wart.

20 Jun 2011 12:35 PM
bellesforever

Beautiful...he is the one who brought me back into racing..we were on the rail both days at Philly park for his triumph and his farewell..he was Rocky..I think we should put some pressure on parx racing..it was Smarty that got them the big fancy complex that stands there today..never in my wildest musings would i have ever considered seeing the rock stars of racing in Philly..I saw Grace and Blind Luck..Proud Spell..never would have happened if not for Smarty..

Thank you for the walk down memory lane..oh yea..Smarty is not a dud at stud.

20 Jun 2011 12:45 PM
robinm

Wonderful, wonderful story Steve.

Smarty was my derby horse from the time I first saw him run at Phil. as a 2-yr old.  He is absolutely the Triple Crown winner that got away!  To the person who said he was a "dud at stud" I'll only say that the very best race horses simply can't replicate themselves and Smarty was definitely one of the best!

20 Jun 2011 12:49 PM
Steve Haskin

John Nerud, the last true genius in racing, always says a stallion doesn't prove himself until he's been at stud for seven years. There is no more patience among breeders, who have a quick-fix mentality. It's all about market value, not accomplishments, so they quickly stop supporting a stallion if his market value goes down. The hottest stallions each year are first-crop stallions, which is absurd. Doesn't anyone ponder the fact that the three Triple Crown race winners this year are by Leroidesanimaux, a grass horse who had no market value whatsoever and had never sired a top horse; Roman Ruler, who was never commercial or considered a successful sire; and Forestry, who hadnt sired a top horse since Discreet Cat? Anyone who says Smarty Jones is a dud after only 3 1/2 years obviously hasn't a clue.

20 Jun 2011 2:12 PM
Karen in Texas

bellesforever and others----I'm for contacting Parx Racing and inquiring nicely, but directly, why the Smarty Jones statue has not been displayed; as well as when we can expect that to occur. I am linking their contact information if Steve is able to publish an Internet link.

www.parxracing.com/contact.php

20 Jun 2011 3:01 PM
keenelandcat

Steve, thanks so much for the wonderful response to the "Dud at Stud" issue.  Smarty's first runners came as the country's economy had drastically soured.  Smarty never got the recognition  he deserved.  Prior to his Derby win, Smarty rattled off  4 stake victories at 3.  No one has done that since him.  His loss in the Belmont was one of the guttiest races I have seen a horse run & not win.  The press & racing "elite"  chastised his connections for retiring him.  Roy Chapman waited his entire life to have a horse like Smarty.  With his health rapidly failing, he was rewarded by reaching the pinnacle of our sport.  What a shame they gave HOY to a horse that only ran 4 races that year & overlooked Smarty for what he accomplished.  Thank you again for a wonderful article.  Anyone can follow Smarty's offspring on his Facebook page.

20 Jun 2011 3:04 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I was pulling weeds in the yard then came in and read this article, slowly savoring it with two cups of coffee. From pulling weeds to instant garden, savoring tidbits of vine ripened fruit and veggies and smelling the blooming flowers of this article despite the fact that Smarty's Belmont loss was probably my most devastating loss is almost 60 years of following sports. I loved Smarty and his entire team and story. The perfect time for the Triple Crown we had been waiting so long for, and victory at Belmont seemed to be there. We had done it, our Triple Crown with our beloved Smarty was really going to happen. "He's going to do it !!!! No, no, no !!! Go Smarty go !!! Go, go, go !!! OMG. No !!!!!!!!!!! Then a reaction of devastation. Steve, thanks for letting us know that he'll be OK in Uraguay. In reponse to your comment at 2:12: tht is why I am always so perplexed when they ruin horses running them in the Classics when they should be sprinting or miling or on the turf. They prove themselves years down the road, and the fact that they sprinted by no means precludes them from siring a Triple Crown winner. No statue-Ba Humbug.

20 Jun 2011 3:19 PM
Frank J.

Nice comment Steve!!

20 Jun 2011 3:58 PM
summergames84

LOL, Steve, I love your last comment!  

It sounds like Smarty will be well-received in South America.  The fact you have visited with the farm managers is comforting.  Thanks for a wonderful article and follow-up.

20 Jun 2011 4:07 PM
Dutch

Smarty Jones was truly a people's horse and captured the imagination of many who normally didn't think twice about the sport. One of those people was a good friend of mine, who braved the elements and went to the Derby that year. He's not a big gambler and was set to bet $100 to win on Smarty, but he was in the flooded infield and never made it to the windows.

Then there's my brother-in-law, who lives close to Philly and was at my house to watch the Belmont. We were all set for the coronation that day, and he was screaming his lungs out with Smarty leading at the top of the stretch. Afterwards, he drowned his sorrows in way too many libations, and it turned into a night of great lamentations. He might still be recovering.

20 Jun 2011 4:38 PM
Steve Haskin

Dr. D., your poetry makes me want to run barefoot through flowering meadows. I'm happy I was able to turn your weeds into blossoms of  sheer delight. Thank you for turning my humble prose into such sublime literature.

20 Jun 2011 4:44 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

You mean I'm a poet and didn't know it? Thanks for your gracious comment, and continued excellence in journalism. I also love your comment about Runflatout. I hope you're right.

20 Jun 2011 5:14 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, you are absolutely right about the lack of patience in crafting a stud career now. When I look at Smarty's pedigree, what I see is versatility. He can be bred for distance or sprints, turf or dirt, all depending on the mare's family. And with Smile, you are also getting the mud influence. It sounds like the industry in Uruguay is very appreciative of the opportunity of having him there. Isn't their emphasis more on breeding to run, not just to sell? Kind of reminds me of the Sunday Silence episode and you see how his offspring have fared in Japan!

20 Jun 2011 5:32 PM
sceptre

Steve,

Once again I imagine this won't be taken well by you, or many of your readers. But, what I'm about to offer isn't said for mere dissent, or anything ego-related. I noticed that you labeled the blogger who referred to Smarty as a "dud" at stud as one who "obviously hasn't a clue." I must respectfully disagree with that conclusion of yours, as I believe it's now reasonable to call Smarty a relative dud a stud. Mr. Nerud may, or may not be a "...true genius in racing..." and, perhaps, his seven year grace period had some validity back then, but it's unduly long for those stallions of today-the ones that receive initially very large books of mares. Smarty was among that group as he was bred to 115, 112, and 114 mares during his first three years at stud-the results from those matings are now 5, 4, and 3 year-olds respectively. In days gone by 341 covers would be all a popular stallion would have received in 7 to 8 years. Despite the fact that a longer stretch of time may offer breeders some clues re-what may work better/best, I still feel that those 341 covers were more than enough to afford him sufficient opportunity to display his relative merit. Yes, it's true that the "hottest stallions" are the ultra-provens and the high profile first year ones, but Smarty, moreso than the vast majority of others, took full advantage of this (note his numbers for his first three years-and they were, as a group, high quality mares). If anything, Smarty today is one of the poster boys for the flaw/misguidedness in this practice. The error isn't that Smarty has been prematurely harshly judged, but rather that Smarty, and others like him, were afforded too much inital opportunity at the expense of many others.    

20 Jun 2011 5:47 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, loved this!!! My heart was with Smarty all the way and when he lost by an inch it was an incredible downer (more than Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders Cup, who I think/know walks on water). Primarily because I felt so bad for Mr. Chapman, who I knew was sick. The look on his face broke my heart. Smarty was a GREAT horse. One of the most memorable ever. He was truly beloved by everyone. I did not blame the Chapman's for retiring him at all. They were lovely people. I am so glad Smarty is doing well and that Pat Chapman is doing well. John Servis did a great job with Smarty also. Thank you Steve for the update on him. It made my day. Dr Drunkinbum, you are a classic  and your posts make me smile ear to ear. Linda in Texas, likewise.

20 Jun 2011 5:53 PM
TerriV

Such a wonderful story, Steve.  All the ups and downs of life.  The story of the little boy whose wish came true brought tears, but somehow your stories always do.  Remembering Smarty is remembering the best, most exciting races in recent history and the most disappointing.  I just loved him and still do.  Couldn't help but notice how many times the TV coverage replayed his Belmont this year.  And each time I keep hoping something will change and he'll win.  Every time I see Smarty's Belmont I'm still not over it.  But, I was there for his Preakness which was the most exciting racing experience I've ever enjoyed.  The energy and love that followed Smarty across that finish line was extraordinary.  Thanks for the memories!

20 Jun 2011 6:09 PM
Mike Relva

STEVE

Question,please? At the time of retirement,did Smarty have any other issues besides the bad ankles? How severe were/are they?

20 Jun 2011 6:31 PM
Linda in Texas

There are some deliciously precious people who happen to be full of heart that i dearly adore on here and I want them all to know if i had to, i would fight a bull dozier for everyone of you!

So glad 'The Bumster' stopped preening the garden long enough to come read that Steve is famous again and still and that i am not the only Smarty Jones admirer and Runflatout is headed for stardom.

And it is only Monday.

And by the way, for wide grins and smiles watch the video of The Belmont Race 5 run on the 18th. It will do your heart wonders. His name is Rocky World. He epitomizes the phrase, never give up.  

20 Jun 2011 6:31 PM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin,

Your comment regarding Runflatout made me want to join you and Dr D. in that barefoot dance in the meadow. Thank you! Only those who know me understand what these kind words mean to this Haskinite. For those who don't, let's just say that I'm on cloud 9,999. :)

20 Jun 2011 6:36 PM
Linda in Texas

Thank you Paula, every time you post something i want to post "me too, me too."

We needed Smarty Jones when he came along and he took our minds off things as they were taking a turn for the not so good. I lived thru Mr. Chapman's same health issue with my father. I wanted Mr. Chapman to realize his dream, but he must be thrilled that we are still talking about Smarty Jones when so many other horses are gone and forgotten. And kindest thoughts to his dear wife Mrs. Chapman.

20 Jun 2011 6:41 PM
Zookeeper

MD - Good to see a comment from you again. It's been a long time. I'm glad that Mr. Haskin's beautiful piece on Smarty prompted you to share some of your thoughts about this lovable horse and how he brought you to help in the rescue of horses and (eventually)to adopting a Thoroughbred. Kudos to you for doing that and I wish you great riding on your regally bred steed. :)

20 Jun 2011 9:27 PM
Mike Relva

SCEPTRE

Totally disagree! Smarty isn't a "dud" at stud.

20 Jun 2011 9:41 PM
tcc

sceptre;

When I look at Smarty's pedigree, what I see is versatility. He can be bred for distance or sprints, turf or dirt, all depending on the mare's family. Karen in Indiana 20 Jun 2011 5:32 PM.

Karen has something here, key words are (all depending on the mare's family.) After looking at 30 of his highly rated horses, most of them were suited to sprinting and short to midrange routes, not the classic distances that he won at. (Kentucky Derby, Preakness).

20 Jun 2011 10:54 PM
Pat C.

Steve,

Thanks for the tribute! And all the memories you bring back.  You DO capture it all so well.  Would love to chat again sometime.

20 Jun 2011 11:09 PM
monica

Mr Haskin,

Thank you so much for these series about Smarty!  Without a doubt, if it weren't for him, I would not be a racing fan, neither would my husband, daughter and several close friends who are all fans because I became a fan. I was never the little girl who "loved horses".  I turned 40 in '04 and that was when my love affair began. Being from Jersey, right across the river from Bensalem, PA, I fell hard for the little scrappy local horse. When he left the sport, I did not! Since 2004 I've experienced the highs (Zenyatta) and lows (Barbaro's tragedy) of the sport. I never tire of standing by the walking ring and gazing at the beauty of the Thoroughbred. I've made friends in the sport and this past Preakness I worked the trophy table! (saw you there)  My daughter (10) takes riding lessons, sleeps with a dozen stuffed horses(all named after racehorses), can read a race program like a pro and wants to be an outrider when she grows up. I enjoy so much having to do with horses and racing...and it's ALL because of Smarty.  

All of the tours for Ghost Ridge are booked for now, but as soon as I'm able I'm going to go out to welcome my "first love" back to the USA.

22 Jun 2011 10:46 PM

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