Veteran trainer Bennie Stutts Jr. announced his retirement Nov. 24, with recent maiden winner Iwillneversaynever the final horse he would saddle during a career that spanned 44 years.
Manoel Cruz gave Mount Joy Stables' Smooth Air a perfect stalking trip and the Smooth Jazz colt responded with authority, taking over just inside the eighth-pole and then drawing clear for a three-length victory in the $300,000 Ohio Derby (gr. II) May 31 at Thistledown.
Mount Joy Stables' Smooth Air drew the rail and was installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the $300,000 Ohio Derby (gr. II) May 31 at Thistledown, but he will meet some pretty stiff competition, namely, graded stakes winner Z Fortune.
Bennie Stutts Jr. is looking forward to visiting northern Ohio for the $300,000 Ohio Derby (gr. II) May 31. But unlike his first trip--about 51 years ago--Stutts won't need a snow shovel.
Mt. Joy Stables' Smooth Air, runner-up in the March 29 Florida Derby (gr. I), continued his preparation for the 134th "Run for the Roses" April 13 with a sharp mile workout at Calder timed in 1:41, an impressive move over that surface.
Despite suffering from a case of laryngitis and unable to speak much, trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said that Florida Derby (gr. I) runaway winner Big Brown came out of the March 29 event in good shape.
The Smooth Jazz colt defeated seven rivals to earn his first stakes score Jan. 5 at Gulfstream Park.
Predawn Raid was allowed to set a lonely pace and the Jorge Chavez-ridden gelding got brave in the stretch, stealing off to a 4 1/4-length victory at odds of 15-1 in the $100,000 Fred Hooper Handicap (gr. III) Saturday at Calder.
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