The Smith Handicap (Grade 3)- $200.000 Purse
AQU- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and Three Eighths on the Inner Turf
November 23, 2019
We’re back at the Big A this weekend, and the highlight of the day at the track will be the 15th running of The Smith Handicap. This eleven furlong race will feature a field of ten while going on the turf. For the most part, the field will consist of up and comers battling successful turf distance horses, but not quite those who were able to be a part of BC weekend at the beginning of the month. There is one exception to that, as Jamie Mach, the fourth place finisher from the BC Turf will be here. Does that make him the favorite? We shall see. While this is a handicap, weights are pretty consistent within the field, ranging simply from 118 to 120 pounds. Let’s take a look at the field!
#1- Roger Rabbit (Rampage Stable, ridden by J Rosario)- Makes his stake debut and gets to start on the rail as he makes this big jump forward. His last race was also his first on the grass, and despite going off at 76/1, he was second in a SA statebred optional claimer. I’d like to see him have a few more in the win column before I could pick him to beat this crowd, but he has earned the opportunity.
#2- Sunpunch (John Henry, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- After winning the Grade 3 AP Handicap, he was sold by former trainer Greeko Holdem to John Henry, for $100.000. He’s run once since the sale, in the debacle that was the DMR Handicap. He was only ninth there, but we’re not going to see a sub 45 second opening half mile here. At least, I hope we don’t. The concern here is the layoff, which will exceed 90 days. Not sure why he has been away so long.
#3- Laff All Day (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by D Davis)- The gelding is also coming out of the DMR Handicap, and while he was a little closer to the leaders then was Sunpunch, it is also a race that we can throw out for him. Though he was equally disappointing in the race that proceeded that, the Grade 3 Singspiel. He also has a three month layoff, and the trainer has likely used that time to get this horse on the right path.
#4- Bevin (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by J L Ortiz)- The Cherokee Sunset gelding has periodically made attempts at the stake level, though he has yet to win one of them. His lone graded race came in the Grade 3 Cougar Handicap, which runs twelve furlongs on dirt. It’s not one of the better races of his past, but he has been better on the grass, and is coming off back to back second place finishes.
#5- Jam Packed (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by J Alvarado)- Impressively, this four year old has been either first or second in fourteen of seventeen career races. Six of those are wins. His recent form has been true to that, being part of the exacta in his last six. As good as that is, he has never faced this level of competition before, and that actually surprises me a little that it has taken so long since the trainer seems to be aggressive with Cherokee Sunset foals and their placement. He has a great shot here.
#6- Controlled Power (Spankys Barn, ridden by M Franco)- While the five year old gelding has had a great career with earnings exceeding $1,000.000, he has not made it to the winners circle yet in 2019, and you have to go back to April 2018 to find a win. The highlight of the year was when he ran second at the Grade 1 Fourstardave at beautiful Saratoga Race Course, so he has shown flashes of his old form. His last two races have not been such a flash, however.
#7- Jamie Mach (RNP Stables, ridden by J Lezcano)- Earlier this month, he ran fourth in the BC Turf, and was the only horse in this field that ran in that race. On that basis, he would seem to be a good favorite on paper. This is his twelfth race of 2019, so he’s been busy, but has only won twice. Therefore, I would be a little hesitant to throw a lot of support to him to come out on top here, but really, I don’t see a horse in this field that can knock him off if he runs the way is capable of.
#8- Welcome To My World (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by L Saez)- There are a lot of us who would like to be a part of Maxmillion’s world, especially if it included coming anywhere near the level of success that he has had on the grass. This is a horse that was running at the stake level in 2017, but then he was absent for a long time. This year, he has won three of four, and that includes the $100.000 Point Of Entry right here in his last start.
#9- Graceful (Nakamura Stables, ridden by Ro Maragh)- The gelding will be making the 22nd start of his career, and it will be the longest that he has ever run. Just recently, he returned to the grass for the first time in Nakamura silks, and won an allowance up north for ON-breds. He has a stake win this year, taking the Grade 3 Ali at KEE in April, so we’ll see how he follows up his last race. He seems to take a lot of money at the betting window, but don’t think that will be the case here.
#10- People Doubted (Aml Racing, ridden by J R Velazquez)- It has been a great career for this four year old colt, and he will be looking to top $1,500.000 in earnings here. Any portion of the purse will accomplish that, and it seems like he should get something. Be careful though, as this is not the 2018 People Doubted that won a pair of Grade 1’s. His season this year has seen one win in seven starts, and that came in February. This seems like it would be a great spot for him, though, and I think he runs well.