In 2004 Oaklawn Park had their 100 year anniversary of racing and the owner of the track Charles Cella offered a $5 million dollar bonus to any horse that could win the Rebel Stakes the Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby.
Pat and Roy “Chappy” Chapman had a small breeding farm in Pennsylvania and had a good friend and advisor in their trainer Bob Camac. Camac recommend they mate their stakes winner and best mare I’ll Get Along to Elusive Quality whose father is Gone West. Elusive Quality’s stud fee was $10,000. In 2001 a foal was born and Pat and Chappy decided to name him after Milly McNair, Pat Chapman’s mother whose nickname was Smarty, “Smarty Jones”. Mother and daughter were foaled on the same day.
Bob Camac was based out of Philly Park and raced in the mid-Atlantic area. He would drop into Laurel or Pimlico and hit and then ship back to Philly Park. I had stats on him starting in 1993. He was a really good claiming trainer and I always included him in my exacta bets. In 2001 a disastrous event occurred that caused Pat and her husband Chappy great sorrow and put them on shaky financial ground. Bob Camac’s step son murdered Bob Camac and his wife Maryann.
Chappy stated he did not know what to do. It was a shock and numbing to them, to racing as well as to me and Susan. This tragedy and Chappy’s failing health as he had C.O.P.D made their decision to disband their small breeding operation. They down sized and then sold the farm and purchased a home, however they kept two horses and one of these was Smarty Jones.
The Chapman’s shipped Smarty Jones to Ocala Florida to Arthur Appleton who had a large horse farm where Bob Camac had trained for Mr. Appleton. Then another almost impossible thing happened. Smarty Jones was getting gate schooled when he reared up and hit his head on the gate and was out cold. Blood was every where. The problems were just beginning. The swelling over his eye said he had a fractured skull. They sent him to a hospital where he spent three weeks. Smarty Jones almost lost his eye because of the multiple fractures and they thought about removing his eye. He recovered at Mr. Appleton’s farm and kept both eyes.
John Servis took over the training of Smarty Jones when Chappy and Pat shipped him back to Philly Park. John Servis was a good friend of Bob Camac. Servis started his workout regime to answer the questions; Does he have a sprinter or a router? Does he have a stakes runner?
After training Smarty Jones John Servis told Pat and Chappy that they had a serious Kentucky Derby contender on their hands. He has a high cruising rate and he is not a sprinter. He was a 2 year old. Chappy, Pat and John Servis came up with a plan. They knew Oaklawn was going to offer a big bonus, $5 million if one horse can win the two races there and also the Kentucky Derby and this became their goal Their Triple Crown.
The connections went with Philly Park leading rider Stewart Elliot. Smarty Jones won his 6 furlong debut by seven lengths. He was a front runner. He won his next race by fifteen lengths. Then a win at Aqueduct made Smarty Jones a contender and they made the move to Oaklawn to get Smarty Jones accustomed to the track and the new surroundings.
The owners, the trainer and the jockey were lining up for a score of a lifetime. They were taking a shot with a great horse. He would be easy to find. He was a front runner.
The entire Philly Park backstretch and the sports fans of Philadelphia also seemed to move with them even though they stayed in Philly. The fans from Philly are a pretty tough bunch when it comes to sports. They were the first city to put a court in a football stadium. They were also the only fans I ever heard of to boo Santa Clause. But they loved Smarty Jones. They started throwing Smarty parties after each win and when Smarty Jones had a workout at the track 17,000 people showed up.
Smarty Jones won the Rebel Stakes by three lengths. He won the Arkansas Derby a month later. He had two wins and one to go.
Charley Cella the owner of Oaklawn Park called Chappy Chapman on Derby week. He told him he secured insurance on the $5 million so if Smarty Jones wins, the $5 million is yours. Win The Kentucky Derby and that would trigger a massive bonus.
Derby day came up Muddy. Smarty Jones went to the front and made the field try and keep pace. He never slowed down and he won by three lengths and scored the $5 million.
There were still two races to run for the Triple Crown, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes but Pat and Chappy, Stewart Elliot and John Servis had already hit their Triple Crown. During the Preakness the bettors poured $59 million into the pools. Smarty Jones won again. At the Belmont Stakes Smarty Jones lost.
Smarty Jones went to post nine times won eight and came in second at the Belmont Stakes. His career lasted seven months. He earned $7,613,155. Pat and Chappy retired Smarty Jones. He went to Three Chimneys to stand at Stud for $100,000. He was syndicated for $39 million dollars. Investors paid $650,000 for a share.
The Chapman’s sold Smarty Jones’ mother for $ 5 million. In 7 months Pat and Chappy Chapman scored for over $51 million Bucks. Bob Camac set these events in motion when he recommended they purchase I’ll Get Along for $40,000 and she won $277,000 on the track. Then he recommended Elusive Quality be bred to I’ll Get Along and that mating produced Smarty Jones.
Every track in the country has great owners, trainers and jockeys and people. The connections from Philly Park were Pat and Chappy Chapman, Bob and Mary Ann Camac, John Servis, Stewart Elliot, Arthur Appleton, Charles Cella and Smarty Jones. These are the kind of people in racing at every track.
Ed Bain’s new horse racing novel
Libraries, Yellow Cheese Sandwiches and 38,880 Running Lines is filled with stories like this. For more information about this novel visit the following link:
My Kentucky Derby bet is #6 Good Magic trained by Chad Brown