Racing: Smarty closes on record

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The Independent Online

America's latest equine legend, Smarty Jones, is now just one race away from the immortality of becoming only the 12th US Triple Crown hero. On Saturday night the colt, whose life story thus far has been the stuff of a fertile Hollywood imagination, added the 129th Preakness Stakes to his Kentucky Derby victory two weeks previously. Next stop is the final leg of the rarely-achieved treble, the Belmont Stakes on 5 June.

Smarty Jones, the 7-10 favourite, extended his unbeaten run to eight races in the Preakness which he won by a record 11 lengths.

Cheaply and unfashionably bred by his owners Roy and Pat Chapman, Smarty Jones's is handled by Philadelphia Park-based John Servis. His first trainer was shot dead by his stepson and the horse himself cheated death in a starting stall accident at two. The Triple Crown is one of the hardest calls in the sport; the last to achieve the feat was Affirmed 26 years ago.