Gantry Proves Gallant in Smile Sprint
After battling champion Amazombie and classic winner Shackleford May 5 and finishing third behind those two in the Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II), Gantry made his first foray to Florida a winning one, taking the $400,000 Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) July 7 at Calder Race Course (VIDEO) .
Because the Smile Sprint is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge, Gantry earned an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park. Benefits include payment of pre-entry and entry fees for the championship race, as well as a travel allowance of $10,000 to start in the race.
Gantry, a 5-year-old gelded son of Pulpit—Rhum, by Go for Gin, runs in the colors of Brittlyn Stable and is trained by Ron Faucheux. He was bred in Kentucky by D J Stable.
Faucheux plans to head west with Gantry later this year. "We bought him originally to run in the Thanksgiving Handicap last year, but it looks like we're going to get to run him in the Breeders' Cup (Sprint)," he said.
The 19-10 favorite in the Smile, Gantry left from the outside post of eight runners in the Smile Sprint as the 118-pound co-highweight along with Field Commission . Jockey Richard Eramia was able to secure good position from the gate, sitting third behind pacesetter Artefacto and Indiano through a first quarter mile in :21.43. Gantry advanced into second position at the quarter pole after a half mile in :44.50, and caught Artefacto with a furlong to run. From there he turned the race into a procession, winning by five lengths in 1:10.52.
Field Commission, the 2-1 second choice, was pulled up after taking a bad step nearing the half-mile pole. He was later determined to have sustained a condylar fracture in his right hind leg and was scheduled to have surgery July 8, according to the Daily Racing Form.
Indiano rallied for second by a nose over Close It Out, who nosed out Artefacto for third. Apriority, Cajun Breeze, and Atlantic Bullcompleted the order of finish. Field Commission was pulled up and vanned off after taking a bad step nearing the half-mile pole. Peb Hughes was scratched, as was Trinniberg, the latter running second in the Carry Back Stakes (gr. III) an hour before the Smile Sprint.
"I wanted to keep my horse very close," said Eramia. "I didn't want him to have a lot of work to do late. He finishes really well, and when I asked he just took off."
Gantry was cutting back to six furlongs, a furlong shorter than his run at Churchill Downs. He kept his record perfect at six furlongs, having won all six of his starts at the distance.
Gantry found his best form late last year and early this season at Fair Grounds, where he ran off a streak of three wins in the Thanksgiving Handicap, Gaudin Memorial, and D F Kenner Stakes. His only previous graded stakes try resulted in a fifth in the Jaipur Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont Park a year ago. Gantry earned $240,560 for the Calder score, running his lifetime earnings to $568,245. He has won seven times in 13 starts.
The winner returned $5.80, $3.20, and $2.80. Indiano paid $4.00 and $3.20, while Close It Out was good for $9.00 to show. The exacta returned $23.80.
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