Benny the Bull won the True North (gr. II) June 7 at Belmont Park in his most recent start. <br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Benny the Bull won the True North (gr. II) June 7 at Belmont Park in his most recent start.
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Coglianese Photos

Benny the Bull Back in Action in Smile

Benny the Bull heads a field of nine in the July 12 Smile Sprint at Calder.

Though the July 12 Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II) at Calder Race Course will host an impressive cast of seasoned performers, Benny the Bull has clearly stated his case as the top contender in the group.

Benny the Bull, who is quickly approaching the $2-million mark in earnings, has emerged as the obvious one to beat in the $400,000 race, as the son of Lucky Lionelis looking to keep his record perfect for his fifth straight start. A 5-year-old sprint specialist, Benny the Bull has won at tracks in seven different states, as well as Dubai. His most recent victories include last fall’s Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes (gr. I), the Jan. 26 Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes, the May 29 Gulf News Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE- I), and the June 7 True North Handicap (gr. II).

Owned by the partnership of IEAH Stables, James Cohen, Pegasus Holdings Group, and Sanford Robbins, the versatile horse is trained by Richard Dutrow, who also conditions this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and Preakness Stakes (both gr. I) winner Big Brown.

Finallymadeit may be less consistent than Benny the Bull, but the son of Concerto is still capable of giving that horse a run for his money. Owned by Rolbea Thoroughbred Racing and trained by Javier Negrete, Finallymadeit has won seven stakes and has placed in seven others. The 4-year-old colt has the advantage of having already won at Calder, as his most recent victory came in the May 26 Memorial Day Stakes at the Miami Gardens, Fla., track.

Another horse that could pose a serious threat is California invader Indian Chant. The gelding by Suggest will enter the Smile off a victory in the May 31 Aristides Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs. Indian Chant is campaigned by Maggi Moss, who was the nation’s leading owner by wins in 2006. Trained by Thomas Amoss, Indian Chant is an expert at six furlongs; he set a new track record for that distance in 1:07.55 last year at Churchill Downs.

Also meriting consideration is Man of Danger, who finished a neck behind Benny the Bull in the True North. The son of Tiger Ridge has earned a respectable $390,395 and is looking to cure a case of seconditis in the Smile, as he was also a runner up in this year’s Paumonok and Toboggan Handicaps (gr. III) at Aqueduct, and the Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont Park.

Rounding out the field is Calder-based stakes winner Rockerfeller; other black-type victors Ravalo, Blue Pepsi Lodge, How’s Your Halo; and graded stakes-placed runner Winnies Tigger Too.

$400,000 Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II, July 12, Race 10, 4:54 p.m. EDT), 3-year-olds and up, six furlongs, dirt
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Man of Danger, 115, Eibar Coa
2. How’s Your Halo, 113, Juan Leyva
3. Indian Chant, 117, Jamie Theriot
4. Winnies Tigger Too, 111, Pascacio Lopez
5. Blue Pepsi Lodge, 114, Elvis Trujillo
6. Ravalo, 115, Victor Espinoza
7. Finallymadeit, 113, Eduardo Nunez
8. Benny the Bull, 124, Edgar Prado
9. Rockerfeller, 114, Javier Santiago