Bob and Beverly Lewis' Orientate jumped out to the early lead and never looked back as the 4-year-old son of Mt. Livermore posted a decisive five-length triumph in the $400,000 Smile Sprint Stakes that was part of Calder Race Course's "Summit of Speed" card on Saturday.
Ridden by Mike Smith for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Orientate set quick early fractions of :21 2/5 and :44 1/5 while being closely stalked by Echo Eddie. The lead remained unchanged until the stretch when Orientate drew off for the final margin. The final time of 1:09 4/5 was one second off the track and stakes record set by Forty One Carats in 2000.
Orientate returned $6.20, $3.80, and $2.40. Echo Eddie held on for second and paid $3.80 and $2.60. Crafty C.T., the 4-5 favorite who broke awkwardly, improved to be third and paid $2.20 to show.
The Smile was the second consecutive win for Orientate, a 4 1/2-length winner of the Aristides Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs on June 29. Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbreds and a $250,000 Keeneland fall yearling purchase, Orientate has won seven of 16 starts and earned $854,150.
"He's a fast horse. We didn't worry about how the track was playing...just let him come out running his race," said Mike Maker, assistant to Lukas. "That's his style. It wasn't really a problem coming back so soon (two weeks). The last race (Aristides at Churchill Downs) was easy on him. I would think he'll stay sprinting for now with Snow Ridge retired."
Earlier on the Calder card, Baby Shark took the lead shortly after the start under Ramon Dominguez and drew away for the easy four-length victory over Kelly's Hero in Saturday's $50,000 Rocket Man Stakes for 2-year-olds and up at Calder Race Course.
A s4-year-old son of Dover Ridge tied the two furlong track record of :20 4/5 as the 3-to-5 favorite and paid $3.20, $3.00 and $2.40. Kelly's Hero, a 30-1 longshot, got up in the final strides to take the place spot and paid $13.40 and $6.00. Roy's Ruckus finished a head back in third and paid $4.20.
Owned by Team 26 and trained by Ben Feliciano, Jr., Baby Shark earned $30,000 to increase his lifetime earnings to $91,840. The win was his first since an allowance victory at Charlestown last November and has a career record of 4-3-2 in 10 starts.
In the $250,000 Carry Back Stakes for 3-year-olds, Royal Lad, ridden by Jerry Bailey, took the lead at the quarter pole and held on for the 1 ¼-length victory over the late closing Captain Squire.
Trained by Ralph Ziadie, the son of Montbrook, who won for the fourth time in 10 starts at Calder, covered the six furlongs in 1:10 3/5 and paid $7.80, $3.80 and $3.20. Captain Squire, with Jorge Chavez aboard, rallied from next-to-last to take the place spot and paid $3.00 and $2.80. Friendly Frolic, a 21-1 longshot with substitute rider Mark Guidry up, finished 6 ¼-lengths back in third and paid $7.00.
Owned by Ron and Cindy Stengel, Royal Lad pocketed $150,000 to nearly double his career earnings to $316,427. The victory was his fourth in his last five starts and has a record of 6-3-1 in 14 career tries.
Affirm Cat and Day Trader blazed the way early and they covered the quarter in 21 1/5 and half-mile in 44 2/5. Bailey, who won the Carry Back in 1980 aboard Diplomatic Note, cut Royal Lad loose at the top of the lane, opened up a big lead in the stretch and cruised home for the victory.