Fresh off a dominating win in the Triple Bend Handicap (gr. I), Smiling Tiger is back to defend his title in the Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I) at Del Mar July 31.
Among his six rivals is Euroears, ready for his first race since finishing second in the Gulf News Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) in March. Amazombie, the beaten favorite in the Triple Bend, and 2010 Golden Shaheen victor Kinsale King should make this six-furlong Polytrack test one of the better sprint contests of the year.
The Bing Crosby is the eighth race on the Sunday program with an expected post of 5:30 p.m. PDT.
Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz' Smiling Tiger, a 4-year-old son of Hold That Tiger, led every step in winning the seven-furlong Triple Bend handily by 3 1/4 lengths July 2 at Hollywood Park. Trained by Jeff Bonde, the chestnut colt boosted his earnings to $1,149,353 with his third grade I victory.
Victorious in eight of 16 lifetime races and out of the money only once, Smiling Tiger captured last year's Bing Crosby in gate-to-wire fashion by 1 1/2 lengths. He also won Oak Tree's Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I) last fall prior to finishing third in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Smiling Tiger has won three of four starts since Bonde teamed him with Joel Rosario, who rides once more in the Crosby. Smiling Tiger breaks from the rail with top weight of 123 pounds.
Euroears, trained by Bob Baffert, spanked Smiling Tiger by 4 1/2 lengths when they last met Jan. 22 in Santa Anita's Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II).
James and Marilyn Helzer's 7-year-old son of Langfuhr has raced just once since then, finishing second in the Golden Shaheen by 2 1/4 lengths to champion sprinter Rocket Man. Euroears led the field on the Tapeta surface at Meydan before giving way in the final 100 meters. He held on gamely for second.
Baffert has given Euroears, who has won half of his 18 lifetime races and banked $891,562, plenty of time to rebound from what he said was a jarring Dubai trip. Leading Del Mar rider Rafael Bejarano takes the call and Euroears breaks from post 4 under 121 pounds.
Also at 121 is Amazombie, who stalked Smiling Tiger as the 3-2 choice in the Triple Bend but gave way in the final furlong and finished third, beaten by more than five lengths.
Trained by co-owner Bill Spawr, the 5-year-old California-bred Northern Afleet gelding won the Potrero Grande (gr. II) and Tiznow stakes in succession in April but was disqualified from an apparent win in the Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) prior to the Triple Bend. Mike Smith retains the mount.
After a big season in 2010 for trainer Carl O'Callaghan, Kinsale King has had a quiet year. The 6-year-old gelded son of Yankee Victor has had just one outing, winning a six-furlong allowance race in front-running fashion over four foes at Golden Gate Fields Feb. 17. His 2010 campaign included victories in the Vernon O. Underwood Stakes (gr. III), the Palos Verdes, and the Golden Shaheen (in which he defeated Rocket Man by a half-length), as well as a third-place finish in the 24-horse Golden Jubilee Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot.
Martin Pedroza will ride Kinsale King, a lifetime winner of six of 12 races and more than $1.5 million, for the first time.
Coffee Boy, winner of last year's Carry Back Stakes (gr. II) at Calder, looks to get back in form in his fifth start of the year for trainer Peter Miller and owners Gary and Cecil Barber.
Carbonite, a convincing winner over $50,000 claiming foes at Hollywood Park last time out for trainer Mike Mitchell, and Color of Courage, fifth in the Triple Bend, complete the lineup.
$250,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Smiling Tiger (KY), J Rosario, 123, J Bonde
2. Coffee Boy (FL), V Espinoza, 119, P Miller
3. Carbonite (KY), J Talamo, 119, M R Mitchell
4. Euroears (KY), R Bejarano, 121, B Baffert
5. Amazombie (CA), M E Smith, 121, W Spawr
6. Kinsale King (KY), M A Pedroza, 121, C O'Callaghan
7. Color of Courage (KY), G K Gomez, 119, J P Gonzalez