As the field for the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes hit the eighth pole on Monday, owner Ahmed Zayat was probably thinking that he had a pretty good shot at winning his second Kentucky Derby prep this month, and a heck of a weekend.
On Saturday, Zayat accepted the Eclipse Award for American Pharoah, last year’s champion 2-year-old Thoroughbred. On January 3rd, his 3-year-old El Kabeir won the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on January 3rd, putting him at #1 in the Kentucky Derby points standings. And a furlong from the finish line in the Smarty Jones, his Mr. Z appeared to be about to take control of the race and get a win that would give Mr. Z 20 Derby points, just on shy of his stablemate, good enough for third place on the leaderboard.
And then Mr. Z moved sideways instead of forward, way out into the middle of the Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Video. Watch it.)
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Photo: Far Right & Mike Smith win the Smarty Jones, followed by Bayerd and Mr. Z. Coady Photography