History will be made in Pennsylvania this Saturday, Sept. 22 when Parx Racing hosts two $1 million stakes for 3-year-olds, as well as a $300,000 stakes. One of the rich events, the Cotillion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, will be the first grade I stakes ever run in the Keystone State.
Among those entered for the Pennsylvania Derby are the dead-heat winners of the Travers Stakes (gr. I), Alpha and Golden Ticket, who look to break their tie in the 1 1/8-mile event. The Cotillion drew the Alabama (gr. I) and Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) winner Questing and the undefeated 2-year-old filly champion My Miss Aurelia.
And several of the top 3-year-old sprinters will compete in the Gallant Bob Stakes (gr. III), including major stakes winners Currency Swap and Trinniberg.
While an expected record crowd cheers on some of the best horses in America and gamblers flock to the slot machines inside the facility, the individual most responsible for this memorable afternoon will be nibbling on grass in a paddock in Uruguay.
Smarty Jones, the orchestrator of Smartymania in 2004, arrived at Haras Cuatro Piedras in early August to begin his second breeding season in South America.
It was eight years ago that Smarty turned Philadelphia Park into the center of the racing universe. Smarty not only changed the fabric of racing and gambling in Pennsylvania, he was responsible for the name change from Philadelphia Park to Parx Racing and Casino.
It was here that Smarty resided through most of his unforgettable Triple Crown run, luring media from New York to Kentucky to the barn of trainer John Servis. And who can forget those two memorable Saturday mornings between the Derby and Preakness and between the Preakness and Belmont when crowds of 7,000 and 10,000, many of them families with children, showed up at Philly Park just to watch Smarty gallop around the track. Politicians gave speeches and hundreds of people converged on souvenir tables to purchase Smarty Jones merchandise.
Gone are the TV helicopters hovering overhead and the police escorts covering three states and Servis’ daily press conferences that drew hordes of people to the Philly Park paddock. And there were the books and songs and hundreds of thousands of fan letters and school visits and a segment on “A&E Biography.” It was quite a time.
Even then Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendel said it was Smarty Jones who was the impetus for the slots bill being passed. Rendel was at Belmont Park for the Belmont Stakes leading the fans in a S-M-A-R-T-Y cheer from his box.
But now, Smarty, after spending several years at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, has become a shuttle stallion, journeying from Ghost Ridge Farms in 2011 and Northview PA in 2012 to Uruguay.
Smarty arrived at Cuatro Piedras in early August after staying 20 days in quarantine near Carrasco Airport.
“He arrived in perfect condition; healthy, spirited, and elegant as usual,” said Claudia Rosas, who owns Cuatro Piedras with her husband Pablo Salomone. “We believe it was not a stressful trip, because he didn´t lose weight and he adapted immediately to the ‘change of address.’
“He is the perfect horse all the breeders want to work with, because he is always ready and willing. He has the necessary qualities to achieve a successful season. Antonio Romero is the name of the chap who takes care of Smarty. Although Smarty can sometimes be distrustful, he respects Antonio a lot.”
Rosas says Smarty begins his stud duties at 7 a.m. and after two or three hours of rest, grazing in his paddock, he is back to work at 2 p.m.
“This year we will participate in 50% of the business,” Rosas said. “We are sure Smarty will make history in Uruguay, and racing here will be referred to as ‘before Smarty Jones’ and ‘after Smarty Jones.’ He has made more prize money than any horse ever sent to Latin America.
“We are so enthused and grateful for the opportunity to have him at our farm.”
All photos by Steve Haskin unless stated otherwise.
Haras Cuatro Piedras
Claudia Rosas (center)
Guests treated to first-class hospitality
Mares and foals
Smarty Jones -- Aventura (by Irish River) foal (Cuatro Piedras photo)
Smarty Jones -- Lady Eve (by Southern Halo) foal (Cuatro Piedras photo)