The Oaklawn Park route to the Triple Crown has been extremely fruitful in recent years with the likes of Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Curlin, Super Saver and American Pharoah all passing through Hot Springs on the way to at least one Classic victory.
The folks at Oaklawn named the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes on January 18 after the horse who got the party started in 2004 and it was won in fine fashion by Discreetness.
Trained by midwest veteran William H. 'Jinks' Fires (who won the Arkansas Derby in 2011 with Archarcharch), Discreetness was unplaced in his first two stakes attempts as a juvenile. He could manage only a sixth-place finish after a slow start in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) and checked in fourth as the favorite in the November 1 Street Sense Stakes won by eventual LeComte Stakes hero Mo Tom.
Sent off at nearly 10-1 in the rich Remington Springboard Mile in mid-December, Discreetness rebounded with a brave nose victory over Suddenbreakingnews and the favored California invader Esposito from the Tom Proctor barn.
Another California hotshot was sent off favored in the Smarty Jones, the odds-on Bob Baffert pupil Toews on Ice. Those bettors that took the 9-1 offer on Discreetness were rewarded with another dramatic victory in the one mile event.
Under Jon Court, Discreetness worked out a clean stalking trip behind Toews on Ice and Gordy Florida in the Smarty Jones. The latter appeared to be moving best of all around the far turn with Discreetness under heavy pressure from Court (with Toews on Ice readily fading). At the eighth pole Discreetness engaged Gordy Florida from the outside and Court put the whip away allowing his charge to earn the victory on his own, which he accomplished by a measured neck.
"Jon and I had talked before the race," Fires said of the short stretch run in one-mile races at Oaklawn. "Going a mile here, if you're not first, second, or third at the three-eighths pole it's hard to make up ground, so we decided to ask him a little early."
Discreetness gets speed from both sides of his pedigree. He's a son of Cigar Mile (G1) winner Discreet Cat, who also won a 9-furlong edition of the U. A. E. Derby (G2) by six lengths. He's out of an unraced daughter of the ultra-quick Elusive Quality (sire of Smarty Jones).
Speed may serve Discreetness well again in the Southwest Stakes (on February 19) and/or the Rebel Stakes (March 9) before the distance waters get a little deeper in the Arkansas Derby three weeks before the first Saturday in May. History has shown if he can be a factor in that one he'd merit a long look at the windows in the Triple Crown series.