Breeders' Cup Focus: Irish Smoke
West Point Thoroughbreds president Terry Finley said the leader board in the 2-year-old division can change every week. Because of the unpredictable nature of juveniles, he does not put too much stock in any one race.
That attitude helps Finley remain confident his talented filly Irish Smoke still has a solid chance to win the $2-million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park.
A daughter of Smoke Glacken--Added Time, Irish Smoke was the early favorite for the Juvenile Fillies less than two weeks ago. It was based on two consecutive wins to start her career, a 2¼-length maiden special weight victory Aug. 2 at Saratoga, and then more importantly, a convincing 3¼-length score one month later in the $250,000 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I), in which she came from well off the pace to take the seven-furlong event with ease.
At that time, Irish Smoke was the filly to beat in her division. But one race later, things changed dramatically.
The shakeup was due to Irish Smoke’s performance in the 1 1/16-mile Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland, her first try around two turns. Going off as the even-money favorite, Irish Smoke never fired, finishing last in a 10-horse field, 11½ lengths back of winner Country Star.
After the poor result, many figured Finley and trainer Patrick Biancone would pass on the Breeders’ Cup. But a few days later, it was announced that Irish Smoke would indeed be pre-entered for the World Championships. Finley said he chalked up the bad race to her first try on Polytrack.
“It was disappointing because she trained so well over it,” Finley said. “She was there all summer and did fine. But it was a hot day and a lot of horses had problems. That’s not an excuse and I am not knocking the racetrack. It was just a bad race, and we’re willing to throw away the tape and move on.”
West Point and Lewis Lakin purchased Irish Smoke, who was bred in Kentucky by Stoneway Farm, for $285,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. selected sale of 2-year-olds in training. Though well-bred and good-looking, Finley said she was not without question marks.
“She had some issues,” Finley recalled. “There was one X-ray that some people didn’t like, and we took a little bit of a chance. But the people who consigned her loved her. We liked how she carried herself.
“She has a lot of class. Did I think she’d be a grade I winner? I don’t think that you can realistically say that any horse will win a grade I race when you buy them. But you have to take some risks in this game.”
Irish Smoke is one of five horses West Point Thoroughbreds plans to pre-enter for the Breeders’ Cup.
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