Next, Smarten flew to Cleveland for the Ohio Derby, and won that easily, by eight, beating a colt called Bold Ruckus. His purse was $90,000. Then Stephens sent Smarten back to Chicago for the $106,000 American Derby, at a mile and a quarter, at Arlington Park. Nothing of merit faced Smarten, and he won with authority. The prize was $63,600. The trainer was like a kid in the candy store holding five lollipops at once.
But things promise to get more demanding for Smarten this summer and fall. Stephens is aiming for the Travers at Saratoga next month and the stiffer competition it could offer—perhaps even Spectacular Bid and Davona Dale.
The colt has certainly earned the chance to meet them, and Stephens plans to give it to him. What he has is a relatively fresh horse who was not wrung out chasing Bid, who has won his races decisively and who goes to Saratoga a better horse than he was six months ago. And a horse, as Stephens says, with confidence. Not to mention almost half a million in the bank. "Keep yourself in good company and your horse in bad company," Trainer Frank Whiteley says. "That's the secret of the game." Stephens, whose horses have won more than 1,200 races and more than $16 million in purses since he began training in 1938, knows it well.