More Smoke popped the gate in a hurry from his inside post for jockey Clinton Potts and was never headed as he upset prohibitive favorite Razor and blazed to an eye-popping 14 1/2-length win in the $107,100 Lafayette (gr. III) for 3-year-old sprinters at Keeneland Sunday.
Facing only three foes, the gray/roan son of Smoke Glacken
steadily increased his lead while clicking off sizzling splits of :21 3/5 for the opening quarter mile and :44 4/5 for the half. Leading Razor by about five lengths at the head of the stretch, he drew off to win in a time of 1:09 4/5 on a track that has been playing slow.
"I thought he would be in front, so I wasn't surprised early," Potts said. "He relaxed very nicely. He's been learning to do that. He seems to get smarter each time. Every time we faced a challenge, he would fight it off and then relax. I had a handful of horse in the lane."
The Lafayette was shortened to six furlongs this year after 23 consecutive runnings at seven panels.
John Zimmerman trains the winner for owners Thomas McClay and Harry Nye.
A $30,000 colt purchased a year ago, More Smoke began his career in Delaware, where he broke his maiden in a $25,000 claiming race in his debut Oct. 19. He ran third in his seasonal debut in the Swale (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park March 5, beaten 5 1/2 lengths by Lost in the Fog, and had continued to work sharply there. This was his first start at Keeneland.
"We expected a big race out of him," Zimmerman said. "This horse has done nothing but improve. Off his last race, and backing up to six from seven furlongs, we thought we had a big chance today.
"This horse made the lead so easy over Lost in the Fog in his last race that I thought he would make the lead easily here. I'm glad we brought him up from Gulfstream."
Razor was coming off a career-best effort when second in the March 5 Mountain Valley Stakes where he dueled valiantly with Afleet Alex. A minor stakes winner at Oaklawn Park prior to that, the Mountain Valley effort may have taken too much out of the Padua Stables' son of Concorde's Tune.
The 4-5 choice broke well for jockey John Velazquez, dropping off the pace a bit before gathering for a run at the leader heading into the turn. More Smoke repelled that challenge without too much difficulty and Razor continued to drop back in the stretch, where he was eventually beaten for second by Crimson Stag, the early trailer, by a half-length. Silent Bid finished last. Marine Seal was a late scratch.
More Smoke won for the fourth time in seven tries and has never missed hitting the board while racing at six different racetracks. The victory pushed his career earnings to $163,577.
Hopewell Investments LLC bred the colt, produced in Kentucky by the Strolling Along mare Saunter.
The winner paid $8, $4, and $2.10. Crimson Stag returned $4.60 and $2.10. Razor's show was $2.10.
Sunday's program drew 14,828, bringing the total for Keeneland's opening three-day weekend to 60,749.