Bensalem, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Lightly raced Protonico, ridden by Joe Bravo, made a late rally to win Monday's $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx Racing.
The Smarty Jones is the local prep race for the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Saturday, Sept. 20. This year Kentucky Derby and Preakness champ California Chrome is expected to headline the PA Derby.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Protonico went off as the 7-2 third pick in the nine-horse field of 3-year-olds with Haskell runner-up Albano the 7-5 favorite and Just Call Kenny the 3-1 second choice.
Protonico, owned by International Equities Holding, Inc., raced off the pace being set by Ain't Got Time with Albano stalking the leader. Albano, ridden by Kerwin Clark, shot though a gap at the top of the stretch to take the lead as 13-1 longshot Classic Giacnroll moved into second.
Classic Giacnroll and jockey Kendrick Carmouche passed Albano along the inside with a furlong to run as Protonico began his rally. Protonico caught Classic Giacnroll right before the wire and registered a half-length victory.
Albano held on to third with Almost Famous finishing fourth. Completing the order of finish were Saa Mi, Just Call Kenny, Ain't Got Time and Grasshoppin. Joint Custody was eased and Lynx was a scratch.
The time for the mile, 70 yard Smarty Jones was 1:41.17 on a fast track.
Protonico, making just his fifth career start, earned $180,000 with the Smarty Jones win. The colt has won three of his starts for $259,715. Protonico was coming off a third-place finish in the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga, losing by just a neck to eventual Travers winner V.E. Day.
Protonico paid $9.20, $4.80 and $3.00. Classic Giacnroll returned $10.00 and $4.40, and Albano paid $2.40 to show.