By Jennifer Hoyt —-
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Monday, Jan. 15, 2018) – Phoenix Thoroughbreds III’s Mourinho did not disappoint as the 3-5 favorite when he picked up 10 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility with his dominate victory in Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes.
Ridden by Hot Springs native Dryden Van Dyke, Mourinho grabbed the lead early and never looked back as he proceeded to set fractions of :23.33 and :48.09 for the first half mile. The Bob Baffert-trainee began to distance himself from his four rivals through the stretch and drew off to win by 3 ¼ lengths over Combatant in a final time of 1:37.25 for one mile over a fast track. Tap Daddy finished third.
In addition to the 10 points the winner received, Combatant earned four points, Tap Daddy earned two points and Bode’s Maker got one point. Arched Feather completed the order of finish.
“The main threat was Todd’s horse (trainer Todd Pletcher) horse (Navistar) who scratched,” Van Dyke said. “Even before that, (trainer) Bob (Baffert) said we’re the fastest horse in the race, so to get the lead and go from there. That worked out well for us. Threw his ears up and just coasted home.”
Mourinho, a son of 2010 Arkansas Derby runner-up and Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, improved his record to 2-2-0 from four starts and has now earned $154,360. The heavy favorite returned $3.20 and $2.10. With the scratches of Lone Rock and Navistar there was no show wagering.
Live racing resumes Thursday with a 1:30 p.m. first post.
Winning trainer Bob Baffert (Mourinho): “Who would have thought 37 years ago that Trump would be President and D. Wayne Lukas would be my assistant trainer (Making fun at the fact that his fellow Hall of Fame trainer saddled the winner for him).”
“We always hoped he’d pass the two turn test. He broke well and was able to make the early lead. He looked like he had plenty left. We’re very encouraged. We’re excited. It’s that time of year when you start to get excited. I don’t know where we’ll run him back. The Southwest (Stakes Feb. 19) may be a good spot. We’ll get him back to California and see what happens.”
Winning rider Dryden Van Dyke (Mourinho): This was the first Oaklawn win for the 2012 Lake Hamilton High School graduate. “It’s extra special because it’s my home town. Very happy.”
Racing again in blinkers: “He’s a horse that we get him to relax in the morning, so the blinkers, I think, helped keep him focused. Young horses like that need to stay focused. I think it benefited him.”
Pre-race instructions: “The main threat was Todd’s horse (trainer Todd Pletcher) horse (Navistar) who scratched. Even before that, (trainer) Bob (Baffert) said we’re the fastest horse in the race, so to get the lead and go from there. That worked out well for us. Threw his ears up and just coasted home.”
Cover Photo Mourinho; Oaklawn Park Photo