What happened Sept. 30 at Belmont Park was racing’s version of hitting four home runs in a game, throwing for seven touchdowns, or scoring 100 points in a basketball game. Or maybe it was better than that.
It was not just that Smart Strike, who stands at William S. Farish’s Lane’s End Farm near Versailles, Ky., was represented by three grade I winners that day, but all three wins came at the same racetrack. Curlin, who won the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in May, captured the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles; English Channel took the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on turf for the second consecutive year; and Fabulous Strike won the Vosburgh Stakes at six furlongs.
“Overwhelming,” said Farish’s son, Bill, who stayed in Kentucky instead of venturing to Belmont. “How many tracks even hold three grade I stakes in a day? We were sort of searching for answers as to which stallions might have done it earlier. We came up with Sunday Silence in Japan and Sadler’s Wells in Europe as stallions who might have done the same.”
Smart Strike’s big day also took him to the top of this year’s leading sires list. The son of Mr. Prospector overtook fellow Lane’s End stallion A.P. Indy, and his ledger now reads $8.8 million to $8.2 million for his chief rival. Smart Strike also ranks among the leaders with 16 stakes winners.
Smart Strike’s big day also confirmed the Farishes’ belief in the 15-year-old stallion.
“He gave his career an exclamation point,” Bill Farish said. “We think he has been a top stallion for years, but it has taken him a little longer in getting into the top echelon. What perhaps was most impressive was the variety of the accomplishments at Belmont that day--winning a sprint, winning on turf at 1 1/2 miles, and winning on dirt at 1 1/4 miles.
“All that shows how versatile he is. He gets 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, sprinters and stayers, and horses that can run on grass, dirt, and Polytrack.”
As for Lane’s End, it’s too bad the Keeneland September yearling sale wasn’t postponed until October. It’s probably safe to say Smart Strike’s average of $347,500 for four yearlings at the September select sessions would have been higher had those yearlings gone through the ring after Smart Strike’s signature day.
“We were pleased with the sale overall,” Farish said. “They sold well for the individuals that they were and for the pedigrees they possessed. The quality of his mares has gone up and will continue to go up, because if a breeder is trying to breed a good racehorse, then they’ve got to go to him.”
Smart Strike, out of the Smarten mare Classy ’n Smart, stood in 2007 for $75,000. A hefty raise seems in order, but Farish wouldn’t speculate how much.
Not unexpectedly, Farish can hardly wait for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Monmouth Park. “Fabulous Strike looks like a top sprinter, and English Channel has been at that level on the grass for a while,” he said. “And to see Curlin come back like that was really incredible. It’s going to be exciting going into the Breeders’ Cup.”