The Smith Handicap (Grade 3)- $250.000 Purse
AQU- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and Three Eighths on the Turf
November 11, 2017
The BC may be over, but there is still plenty of good racing taking place this Veteran’s Day weekend in our virtual world. At AQU on Saturday, a field of ten comes together in the 13th running of the Grade 3 Smith Handicap, a race for those turf horses that want to just keep going and going. Initially, the race drew with a full field of twelve, but after a couple of early scratches, we are down to this amount of ten. Don’t worry, because it still will be a fantastic race. Last year, Mb Stables won the race with his three year old Play Ball, but the trainer will be giving someone else a chance to experience Smith Handicap glory as he does not have an entry. As for Play Ball, the race was the highlight of the career, and he has proceeded to struggle. That has not been the case for all past winners, as the likes of Charming Behrens and Wind Walker have won the race in the past. Recent winners have been more like Play Ball then Charming Behrens, so hopefully we can end that trend here. Let’s meet the field!
#1- Red Lorry (Diablo Diablo, ridden by J L Ortiz)- This three year old colt looks to make a jump forward in his career. He has been consistent as far as being near the front, and scored his second career victory against allowance company at RP in a race that was a tactical adjustment for him (it appears), to come from behind instead of being near the lead. Off that good looking win, the trainer not only puts him into stake company for the first time, but sends him off at the longest he has ever run in his career thus far. Keep an eye on him.
#2- Stormy Collapse (Ekli Stable, ridden D Moran)- Looking for the fourth win in 18 starts, Stormy Collapse returns to graded competition for the first time in six months. In February, he ran a big one at the FG Handicap (Grade 3), finishing third, but one he ran poorly at the Fort Mercy in May at BEL, that led to him being dropped into allowance company. Now, after some good results, including a win, Stormy Collapse looks to redeem himself at this level. This will be the longest he has ever raced.
#3- Hotwheel (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by J Rosario)- The Cherokee Sunset gelding has been a little inconsistent in his career thus far, but has shown flashes at times of being great. He’s won just two out of ten, and unlike the prior two we touched on, when he does not win, he is not necessarily close. What he brings to the table that can be very valuable in a race like this is experience in running these longer distances already. He’s raced against the greats in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer, so he did need this drop down from that level as well.
#4- Moms Guy (Hawaiian Shirt Guy, ridden by J J Castellano)- With eight wins in 36 starts, this six year old has been very successful in his career, but has done nothing lately. His last two starts have seen him be beaten by a combined 27 lengths, and in his last four starts, he has beaten a combined two horses. Hawaiian Shirt Guy paid a high price to acquire him in the June auction, for $75.010, but only those dismal four starts to show for it. I’m surprised that he is entered here. Maybe he will prove me wrong.
#5- Romantic Pirate (Drabfantasy, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- Having just seven starts in his career, it is possible that this one has a long bright future ahead of him still, and you have to like the bloodlines. His last three starts represent him going longer distances for trainer Drabfantasy, and so far Romantic Pirate has won one of them. It was not just any race though, it was the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf, and its $600.000 purse. Unfortunately, he could not carry the momentum into the Hirsch Turf Classic, but I think this is a great spot for him to have been entered into based on those results. I expect him to be one of the top threats.
#6- General White- Scratched
#7- Thats The Truth (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by R Bejarano)- This one has been seen in some pretty big races lately, but that’s about all that we can say about them. He’s raced in the Grade 1 Shadwell, Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap, and even the Grade 2 CT Classic, and had the same exact finish in all of them. 12th. Though there was a day in August, out at DMR where he ran second in the Grade 2 DMR Handicap. Continuing the good news, that race was also eleven furlongs, on the grass. Thats The Truth was not bad in those big losses, just a bit outclassed. Here, it’s going to be a lot like the DMR Handicap, so he can and should be a contender.
#8- Pump Action Shotgun (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by R J Albarado)- Last year, Pump Action Shotgun was part of BC Day, running in the Turf Sprint, and finishing a respectable fifth. Since then, he’s picked up two wins, and has recently going from sprinting to running these long races. The win came when the turf was soft at CD for the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap. I wish he would have followed that up a little better, though, at the 11-furlong Bowling Green Handicap at SAR. This is his first race since then, so hopefully that time off has done him some good. The layoff is just a bit over 90 days.
#9- Rio Cibuco (La Canada Racehorses, ridden by E Maldonado)- It will be a jump in class for the Chuck Farley gelding. As late as this summer, he had been running for some really low claiming prices, including sinking into a $6 maiden claimer. He won that race, and after enjoying his time in the winners circle, he’s kept going back. Rio Cibuco is now on a three race winning streak, and has enjoyed going longer, which he has done in his last two. He hasn’t race against this type of company before, but his effort in the BEL allowance at a mile and a half shows he has improved and earned this opportunity.
#10- Mean Street (Nakamura Stables, ridden by L Saez)- There is no one in this field who has had the type of success in their career as Mean Street has had. This seven year old horse has eclipsed $1,000.000 in career earnings, thanks in large part to ten wins in 38 starts, and he has been in the money in 26 of them as well. He has not won any of his five starts this year, but with a little more headbob luck, he could have had one in the Grade 2 Diarmida in March, then in late July he missed by just a length in the Grade 2 Nijinsky. So, he is still running well, and this might be a good spot for him to pick up win number eleven.
#11- Hold The Fort- Scratched
#12- Speedy Conciliatory (Cherrytree Hill Farm, ridden by J Bravo)- Starting from the outside, will be this four year old Speeding Home gelding. He’s had a strong career with six wins in 17 starts, and has a couple of ungraded wins to his credit, one of which was in his last start, at GG for the Rolling Green Stakes. He’s made a couple of graded attempts, and was good in the Grade 2 Ft Lauderdale at the beginning of the year. In this race, Speedy Conciliatory will be adding some distance. We’ll see how it plays out.