Island Town cruises in Smarty Jones at Parx

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

August 29th, 2015

Far from the hullabaloo of Saratoga, where American Pharoah suffered his first loss of the season in Saturday's Travers (G1), the three-year-old Island Town put himself squarely in the forefront of contenders for next month's $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) with a stylish course prep win in the $300,000 Smarty Jones (G3) at Parx.

Pressing pacesetter Souper Colossal through fractions of :23.63, :47.76, and 1:12.93, Island Town gained the advantage from that rival approaching the eighth pole and drew off with authority late to win by 6 3/4 lengths under Brian Hernandez.

Owned by the partnership of Six Column Stables, Randall Bloch, John Seiler, and David Hall, the Ian Wilkes trainee paid $12.60 after completing one mile and 70 yards in a modest 1:44.10 over a fast track.

Souper Colossal was well clear of 48-1 longshot Battle Midway at the finish, while 9-10 favorite Divining Rod finished fifth in the field of six.

A maiden winner at Churchill Downs in his third and final start at two, Island Town was up the track in his three-year-old bow at Keeneland in April but bounced back to take an allowance and then the Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill. Fifth in the Indiana Derby (G2) last time in the slop, he rebounded well here while proving himself outside the friendly confines of Churchill for the first time.

The Parx strip perhaps was playing a bit slowly Saturday. The final time of Smarty Jones was nothing special, but it must be noted than an open allowance for older horses was run in 1:44.10 earlier in the card.

Island Town will have to improve a bit against what should be a competitive field for the Pennsylvania Derby (the whiff of a million should attract a number of speculators), and he could very well do so in four weeks' time.

(Island Town photo: Barbara Weidl/Equi-Photo)