Smoocher Kisses Grey Cup Foes Goodbye

(from Woodbine report)
Smoocher kissed his competition goodbye with an impressive closing effort in Sunday's $277,250 Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes (Can-II) at Woodbine.

The combination of a smart, rail-skimming ride from Jim McAleney and a gutsy sustainend move from his 2-year-old colt proved too much to overcome. Smoocher is trained by David Bell.

McAleney and the son of Kissin Kris might not have been in the picture early, but in the end, the duo were picture perfect, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of their nearest competition in the 1 1/16-mile event.

It was Estevan, with Constant Montpellier in the irons, who took the early lead, cutting an opening-quarter clip in :24.31. McAleney and Smoocher, who left the gate from the outside post nine, were at the back of the pack.

After Estevan led the field through a half-mile in :47.87, McAleney and the Florida bred began to make headway, steadily gaining on the front-runners by saving ground along the inside path. Just prior to the final turn, McAleney and his charge surged to the front with an impressive turn of foot, staving off another game performance from 14-1 longshot Organ Grinder, runner-up in last month's Swynford Stakes.

"I'm sure David didn't want us to be that far off, but I had the option of going eight-wide early or tucking in," said McAleney, who earned his fifth stakes score in 2003.

"Sometimes you have to ad-lib and that's what we did. He accepted dirt in his face and ran a very strong race."

The final time for the race was 1:46.74 over a main track rated as "fast."

In victory, the bay earned $166,350 for owner John Franks. Smoocher's bankroll now stands at $204,528, after just three career starts.

He paid $14.70, $9.10 and $5.40 across the board, combining with Organ Grinder ($14.60, $7.00) for a $241.40 exacta. Niigon ($5.30) rounded out a $1,095.80 trifecta.

(Chart, Equibase)