(Edited Calder race report)
Calder-based Mach Ride sprung a significant upset in Saturday’s $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO), winning by two lengths over fellow outsider Paradise Dancer.
Smokey Stover managed to get third, while Fabulous Strike wound up fifth. Elvis Trujillo provided the winning ride for trainer Steve Standridge and owner Rustlewood Farm, Inc. Final time for the six furlongs was 1:09.89 over the main track listed as good.
As expected, Fabulous Strike took the early lead after winning an early pace duel from Weigelia. Mach Ride was never far behind, though, sitting in third while three-wide on the backstretch. Mach Ride then moved to the lead and passed a suddenly tired Fabulous Strike.
Smokey Stover looked poised to make a winning move from fourth position when he then flattened out, leaving the lead to Mach Ride. It then became another Calder horse, Paradise Dancer, who posed the only remaining threat to Mach Ride. Paradise Dancer closed gallantly, but could not catch the winner.
Mach Ride, who carried 116 pounds, now four for six over the Calder strip, paid $17.60, $8.40, and $4.60. Paradise Dancer returned $8.20 and $4.40, while favored Smokey Stover, who carried top weight of 123 pounds, paid $2.40 to show.
Mach Ride now has six wins from 13 lifetime starts. The victory, Mach Ride’s first in a graded stakes race, added $303,800 to his career bankroll, which now stands at $515,750.
The winning 4-year-old son of Pentelicus was bred in Florida by his owner.
“This makes up for a lot of the frustration we’ve had with this horse,” Standridge said. “He is very talented, but has had bad luck on several occasions in his races during his career. The Ponche (fourth here on Apr. 28), that was my fault. I was frustrated after his race at Oaklawn (fifth in Count Fleet), I just ran him back too quick (15 days).
"Putting blinkers on him for his last race (Champali) made a big difference and has helped him stay focused. I felt good about him today the way he was placed down the backstretch and the way the race was developing. I’ve won races worth $400,000 before, but I’d say this is the biggest with the money, a grade II, and the quality of the competition. It’s also very important to him, as it could make him a stud prospect. I can’t say what will be next right now.”
“This horse is very strong and sharp right now,” Trujillo said. “One of the favorites (Fabulous Strike) was out there on the lead winging along, and my horse wanted to get out there with him. When I let him hook the leader, he started to get even stronger and that horse couldn’t match strides with us for too long. Once we reached the top of the stretch, I knew we would win easily.”