Smile Sprint Handicap (Grade 3)- $250.000 Purse
GP- For Three Year Olds and Upward
Six Furlongs on the Dirt
June 30, 2018
A field of nine will be heading to post for the 14th running of the Smile Sprint Handicap, which is run as a Grade 3. It was not always this way, as back in the early days both Ljosalfar and Alpha Ultimo picked up two wins in the stake, each, when it was run at CRC for a $500.000 purse, and as a Grade 2. When the race moved to GP in 2015, it saw its purse get cut to the current level, and last year was the first time it was a Grade 3, having been downgraded. There are no Alpha Ultimos in this field, no offense to Oversell It. Four of the nine runners in the field have earned less then $100.000 in their careers thus far, so this is a great chance for one of them to make a name for themselves. Weight will not be an issue in this handicap, as the entire field runs at 119 pound, with one exception being Scouting Force at 120. Here is the field for the race!
#1- Proud And Positive (Winning Link Stables, ridden by T Gaffalione)- After modestly breaking his maiden in his debut race, the trainer immediately pushed Proud And Positive into the stake level, with a focus on CA-breds. The results did not come his way, however, and there were several off the board finishes. Seeing the potential in his horse, Winning Link opted for the geld and hoped for the best. After a decent run in an optional claimer, he put together the best rest of his career in his last outing, a CD allowance. In the Smile Sprint, the trainer hopes Proud And Positive will show that potential he always has had, and finally score a big win.
#2- Oversell It (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by A Beschizza)- Speaking of big wins, that has not been a problem for Oversell It, who’s career earnings are almost triple that of the next highest earner. The six year old makes his 40th start, and so far he has earned sixteen wins. While his biggest wins were earlier in his career, he comes into this race having won four out of six. Those don’t include the Grade 1 Vanderbilt Handicap, as he won back in 2016, but it shows he deserves a chance to return to the level he once excelled at.
#3- Top Hero (Aer Stables, ridden by S X Bridgmohan)- The five year old gelding will make his debut for Aer Stables, after being acquired less then two weeks ago in private sales for $35.000. The sale comes after a seventh place showing in a $50.000 claimer in May, so former trainer Fractious looks to have not felt he was a top hero in his barn. He was very consistent late last year, and with a little more luck at the wire, several of those second by a length results could have made him seem far more appealing. I think Aer Stables picked up a steal with this purchase, and the change of scenery will be very beneficial.
#4- El Gran Black (Mb Stables, ridden by J Alvarado)- The first of three entries in the field for the trainer, who will have one-third of the field in this race. This is a newcomer to the barn, having recently been claimed from Luz International for $47.500. He’s had his moments in the past, winning the Grade 2 PRM Cornhusker Handicap last year, and even ran in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic. As that run died off, he had been in claimers for the last three, before making his way to Mb Stables. Certainly, we know he can get him back on track.
#5- Jason Bourne (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by T C Baze)- Recent form for this one is pretty good, and that is promising to see, because he looked a little inconsistent last year. He is at his best right now, and picked up a win in the $100.000 Max Gold Cup. The more impressive result, though, was the race right after that, as he was second in a tight photo in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap. Despite this form, the trainer is changing him up a little and sending him back to a sprint. This is the type of race he was inconsistent in last year.
#6- Tourist (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by C J Lanerie)- It looks as though this Mr Creepy gelding is still looking to find his strong spot on the track. The trainer has tried a bit of everything in his last four starts, based on distance and surface in hopes of recapturing that form that saw him win the $200.000 NY Breeders Futurity last year. He hasn’t won since then, but he will be glad to be back in that type of race, since the tests of other options saw him run near the back of the field.
#7- Dependable (Mb Stables, ridden by V Espinoza)- Even Mb Stables has to try and swing for the fences a little bit, and that’s what this one looks like to me. With two others in this field, that’s a little easier to do. Last time we saw him, it was in the middle of April, and he was winning a simple claimer at SA. No one picked up the Commanding gelding for $16.000 there, and since then, there has been a trend in his works showing some improvement. That’s why he is getting this shot. In the event he is a longshot, take a chance.
#8- No Waiting (Mb Stables, ridden by J L Ortiz)- This successful Decima gelding has won half the races he has participated in, five of ten, and only once in his career has he finished out of the money. Those are impressive numbers, but he is not been running against the type of competition that he sees here in those successful runs. The only stake attempt so far was the $125.000 Overskate Stakes, where he was flat and did not beat anyone. Good works get him another shot, and he looks for redemption now.
#9- Cherry Vodka- Scratched
#10- Scouting Force (Gdp Inc, ridden by A A Gallardo)- Thanks to winning the $50.000 Governors Stakes at the beginning of the month, Scouting Force will be carrying one more pound then everyone else here. That should not be a big deal, and the bigger handicap that he faces is his starting post. He’s been passed around several barns lately in claimers, and the Governors was his first race for Gdp since he claimed him. Gdp Inc, however, saw something in him, and he was awarded with a big win in a stake that had a stronger field then you may think. Look for a good run out of him here.