Smooth Air Back on the Track

Smooth Air Back on the Track
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Smooth Air returned to the track April 27 after missing two days of training due to a fever.
By Steve Byk

Mount Joy Stables' Smooth Air and 70-year-old trainer Bennie Stutts saw things return to normal Sunday, April 27, at Churchill Downs, including the colt's temperature, appetite and morning regimen.

Treated with Dormosedan to keep the typically eager Hutcheson (gr. II) winner from trying to do to much, Smooth Air jogged once around the main track under regular gallop rider Suzie Milne as he resumed preparations for an anticipated start in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

The Florida Derby (gr. I) runner-up had missed his morning exercise Friday and Saturday after spiking a slight fever Thursday afternoon putting his status into doubt.

Treated by Dr. Phil Tripp for a possible low grade infection Friday, Smooth Air's temperature returned to its' typical 99.7-99.9 by Saturday morning and remained normal throughout the day. Concern for the colt's status flared with the mild setback but Stutts and owner Brian Burns were heartened by Smooth Air eating up overnight and appearing eager for an exit from his stall Sunday morning.

"We accomplished what we wanted," said Stutts, a throwback third generation horseman who has captured the attention of the Derby media with a litany of racetrack lore from an entire life spent in the sport. "He got around without being too jumpy, and tomorrow you'll see a different horse."

Stutts will have Smooth Air resume his typical 'two times around' tour of the oval Monday with a paddock schooling session tentatively scheduled for Tuesday. Having canceled the formal Sunday workout for Smooth Air, Stutts will have his charge finish his gallops wiht a flourish this week and perhaps give him a
quarter mile or three-furlong 'blowout' Thursday.

For Burns, who is anticipating his first Derby start as an owner after 18 years in the game, the angst over his homebred runner is part of preparing for any race.

"You sweat out any important start," he said Sunday. "Four weeks out, three weeks out, you know you can get past a hiccup. 10 days out is more unnerving, but we think we're past whatever was bothering him and think we're back on track."

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