The 8-year-old son of Thunder Gulch
won by a desperate nose over the late-closing Left Unsaid
, who just missed after running from seventh with a rush after the final fence.
"He gave all he had," said jockey Danielle Hodsdon, who rode the winning chestnut gelding for trainer James M. Day. "He has a nice little turn of foot, but he really just dug in to hold it in the end."
Making his 42nd start to earn his seventh career victory, Spy in the Sky had not won since taking the Carolina Cup Hurdle Stakes (NSA-II) in March 2010. He failed to finish last year's edition of the Smithwick and in two previous starts this year, both in NSA grade II and grade III events, finished fourth.
Spy in the Sky rated fifth in the early going while pacesetter Tax Ruling
took the field through the first 1 3/4 miles. Hodsdon set her mount down for the drive after the eighth fence and made a bid five wide entering the final turn. Spy in the Sky responded to sprint clear by 1 1/2 lengths in mid-stretch, then held off the late run from Left Unsaid to get the victory in a final time of 3:50.92.
"I hit the lead a little sooner than I wanted," Hodsdon remarked. "Being he's an older horse, you don't want to leave it too late. I was pretty sure he just held on. I have never been that wide on that final turn, but for a little horse, he's got a big stride and you don't want to check him behind those horses. He was traveling and I just thought I better keep his run going. It was wide, but he had a nice run.
"He was just brilliant. There was a quite a bit of speed. There were three up in front of us that were galloping right along, so he just drifted behind them. It just set up absolutely perfect for him."
Bred in Kentucky by Gainsborough Farm Spy in the Sky is out of the Zilzal mare Monaassabaat. He improved his record to 7-3-6 and earnings of $353,160.
Spy in the Sky returned $52, $21.80, and $13.40. Left Unsaid paid $6.70 and $6.50. All Together