The morning after his commanding five-length victory in the Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II), Brittlyn Stable’s Gantry gave the appearance of a horse that had done very little July 7 at Calder Casino & Race Course.
“He’s been on his toes all morning walking around the barn and looking absolutely great,” winning trainer Ron Faucheux said on the morning of July 8. “I’m going back to Louisiana today, and he’ll van back to the Evangeline Training Center tomorrow where we’ll give him a little time off.”
With his victory in the Smile Sprint, Gantry not only captured the first graded stakes of his career, he also earned a berth in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I), to be held at Santa Anita Park Nov. 3. The Smile was a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series race for the sprint division, providing payment of entrance fees and $10,000 in travel expenses to start.
“That’s the plan,” Faucheux said when asked if an early November trip to California is now in the works for Gantry. “We plan on being there.”
Faucheux decided to ship Gantry to Calder June 28, nine days in advance of the Smile.
“We knew we wanted to get him here a little early to get him acclimated to the new surroundings and to make sure he liked the track," Faucheux said. "And then on race day, he performed the way we hoped he would. It’s great when a plan works to perfection.”
Faucheux will take a relatively light path to Arcadia for the Breeders' Cup, with just one prep race likely.
“We’re going to take things easy with him,” he said. “We want to run him once before the Breeders’ Cup and we’ll just have to look around Louisiana and elsewhere to see what race that will be. But I think he runs his best races when he’s a little fresh, and with the Breeders’ Cup as the goal now, we aren’t going to take too much out of him before then.”
Such a goal was surely not expected last fall when Gantry was purchased privately after an allowance win at Belmont Park with a small stake on the Fair Grounds racing calendar the intended goal.
“I said this yesterday, but it’s true. My owner was just looking to get a horse for the Thanksgiving Day Handicap last year, that’s what we bought him for,” Faucheux said. “We knew he would be a good dirt sprinter, but that’s the race we wanted to win, and we did. Then we won two other stakes down there, and now the race yesterday. And from that Thanksgiving Day Handicap horse, it looks like we got a Breeders’ Cup Sprint horse instead. That’s pretty amazing.”