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Friday, July 9, 2004
Updated: July 10, 7:29 PM ET
Derby winner's next race set for Pennsylvania Derby

By Richard Rosenblatt
Associated Press

Smarty Jones will return to the races in front of a hometown crowd at Philadelphia Park.

Trainer John Servis made it official Friday: The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner has begun serious training for the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 6 -- the 3-year-old colt's first start since his Triple Crown bid fell short in the Belmont Stakes on June 5.

"We're not in a hurry to make any race," Servis said, "but he's showing me he's ready to work so we'll start cranking him up. He's right on target for the Pennsylvania Derby."

Servis said Smarty Jones' next workout will probably come in a week to 10 days. "He's been doing great; it's time to start bearing down," he said.

The decision eliminates the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on Aug. 8 from consideration, and sets the stage for the biggest day in Pennsylvania racing.

A record crowd of 30,000 is possible, says Philadelphia Park vice president of operations Joe Wilson. The current mark is the 28,692 who showed up for the 1983 Pennsylvania Derby.

In May, a crowd of nearly 10,000 showed up at the track just to watch Smarty gallop. The Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby is the state's showcase event and the purse may be raised to $1 million from $750,000.

Servis said his goal is to get Smarty Jones ready for the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, on Oct. 30.

The trainer said Smarty would make one more start before the Classic, most likely in the Pegasus Stakes at the Meadowlands sometime in September. The date of the race has yet to be set, so Servis nominated Smarty to the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 25, "in case the Pegasus doesn't fall into place."

Smarty Jones, a Pennsylvania bred owned by Pat and Roy Chapman, is based at Philadelphia Park. His first two starts were at the track, with his last race there a 15-length romp in the Nursery Stakes last Nov. 20.

Servis said the little red chestnut colt has simply been walking and jogging the past month "to take some time off, and as the old adage goes, 'sharpen your ax."'

Birdstone ran down Smarty Jones with a furlong to go in the Belmont, spoiling the colt's bid to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Despite the one-length loss, Smarty's popularity remains strong. He was recently syndicated in a deal totaling about $48 million, and will stand at stud at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky.