Arguably one of the most popular thoroughbred racehorses of all time, Smarty Jones was born on 28 February 2001 as a third-generation descendant of Mr. Prospector. His sire was Elusive Quality – who holds the one-mile record on turf – and his dam was I’ll Get Along out of Smile. He was born at Someday Farm in Pennsylvania and was named after co-owner Pat Chapman’s mother with whom he shared a birthday. Pat and her husband Roy Chapman originally hired a trainer by the name of Bobby Camac to train Smarty Jones, but their plans went horribly wrong when Camac and his wife were brutally murdered. Shortly afterwards the Chapman’s made the decision to disband their breeding operation and keep only a few of their best horses. Since Smarty Jones was a product of their winningest horses, he was kept and sent for training with John Servis in 2003.
Things looked promising for Smarty Jones as he started his training but went terribly off-course when Smarty spooked while being schooled at the starting gate, hitting his head and falling to the ground unconscious. The horse had blood pouring from his nostrils and his trainer thought he was dead, let-alone unconscious. On being examined by a vet it was established that he was still alive and he was immediately shipped to an Equine Clinic for a more accurate diagnosis. It turned out that Smarty had a fractured skull and that the bones around his left eye were so badly damaged that there was a big possibility that he may lose his eye. However, just three weeks later Smarty had recovered so well that he was able to leave the hospital. After just more than a month of recuperation, he re-commenced his training and by early November, he had recovered fully and was ready to make his racing debut.
From the start, it was easy to see that Smarty Jones was one-in-a-million. He won his first race at Philadelphia Park by 7 ¾ lengths. Just two weeks later he took the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes by 15 lengths. When he started his three-year old racing career in January 2004, Smarty Jones raced against some quality horses in the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct Raceway – a race which he won by five lengths. It was decided not to push Smarty too hard but instead to train him towards racing the Kentucky Derby later that year. When he ran and won the Kentucky Derby in May that same year, he became the first unbeaten Kentucky Derby winner since Seattle Slew had claimed the title in 1977, as he’d won all six of his races prior to the Derby. He won the race by 2 ¾ lengths and was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Not long afterwards, he won the Preakness Stakes by a record 11 ½ lengths. Suddenly Smarty Jones’ was an incredibly popular horse with breeders offering 40 to 50 million dollars for the rights to breed with him. It was felt certain that he would take the Triple Crown that year but unfortunately he came in second at the Belmont Stakes and his chances of claiming the title slipped away. Nevertheless, more than 120,000 people attended the race to see him in action – the largest crowd ever at a sporting even in New York ever.
Out of the nine races that Smarty Jones raced in, the Belmont Stakes was his only loss. He was retired late that year due to bruising of his ankle bones. He had earned $2,613,155 from his racing and had also been awarded a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn Park. Today Smarty Jones stands at stud at Three Chimneys farm in Midway, Kentucky. It remains to be seen if his offspring will show the same talent that he did.