Smiling Tiger Claws Out Ancient Title Win
Smiling Tiger , reunited with jockey Russell Baze, earned his second grade I win of the season when he put away Cost of Freedom in the stretch and held on for a half-length victory in Oak Tree's $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) at Hollywood Park Oct. 9.
Smiling Tiger is expected to make his next start in the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov. 6.
Jeff Bonde trains Smiling Tiger for owners Philip Lebherz and Alan Klein.
"We're definitely going to go for the Breeders' Cup (Sprint)," Lebherz told TVG. "This was a Breeders' Cup warm-up. It's $60,000 to enter -- like a $60,000 bet. But now (after winning the Ancient Title), we feel real confident."
Smiling Tiger heads into the Breeders' Cup having won three of five starts in 2010, including the Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes (gr. III) over Hollywood's Cushion Track in May. The Kentucky-bred chestnut colt has never been worse than third in nine lifetime starts, winning five.
"That was a very good horse he looked in the eye (Cost of Freedom) and fought off," Baze said of Smiling Tiger. "It just shows how game he is. He's 100% racehorse."
“We knew that Cost of Freedom was going to go hard early, and we were fortunate to draw outside of him," Bonde said. "We were very concerned with getting a good break, because that hurt us in our last race (the Pat O'Brien). We’ve always felt six furlongs is his best distance, so we felt like we had a really good shot coming in.
“He’s a free runner, and he just doesn’t want you to bother him early. Today he was unmolested early, so he’s able to stalk. He just doesn’t like a guy taking a hold of him and see-sawing him around. In the Pat O’Brien, he was kind of taken out of his game. It’s a distance that’s tough for him. But at three quarters, he’s a tough horse.”
E Z's Gentleman, third throughout for jockey Martin Garcia, drew closer as the late-running Supreme Summit charged home on the outside for Rafael Bejarano.
"The winner had a lot of horse, he was still running to the end," Bejarano said. "I broke good and was maybe four or five lengths from the winner. When we straightened out, he was in the clear and finished well."
"This should set him up for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint," trainer Bob Baffert said of E Z's Gentleman. "He likes Churchill Downs; he won there earlier in the year."
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