Photo: Hodges Photography
Given his top connections and his late run for second in the Springboard Mile, the New York-bred Bankit could vie for favoritism in Friday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes, the year’s first Kentucky Derby prep at Oaklawn Park. Mike Shutty, author of Horse Racing Nation’s Super Screener handicapping system, sees value in his top win pick if that’s the case.
Along with Bankit, Shutty’s other “A” horse — for recommended use in the win spot on vertical and horizontal wagers — exits a key race. Gray Attempt defeated Manny Wah and Hog Creek Hustle in the Sugar Bowl Stakes on Dec. 22 before both came back to hit the board in Fair Grounds’ Lecomte (G3) last Saturday.
The question with Jinks Fired-trained Gray Attempt is whether the winner at 6 and 6 1/2 furlongs can stretch his front-running speed.
While sprinting, this colt laid out energy in a very balanced way,” Shutty said. “That, combined with middle distance breeding, suggests he’ll take to a move to a route of ground just fine.”
While Shutty’s not declaring Gray Attempt a Kentucky Derby prospect, the expectation’s there that he should like the Smarty Jones, which measures a mile around two turns. It’s the longshot Jack Van Berg — the horse, conditioned by the late Hall of Fame trainer’s son, Tom — who Shutty expects to set the Smarty Jones pace with Gray Attempt in a pressing position.
Shutty has designed his wagers around a “highly probable” scenario that both his “A” horses finish in the trifecta. Get his thoughts on the full field, suggested bets and the Pegasus World Cup now for a Super Screener handicapping advantage.