OTB Race Previews
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Two-time graded stakes-winner Get Smokin returns to Belmont Park where he broke his maiden two years ago, competing as part of an ten-horse field of 4-year-olds and up in the inaugural running of the $100,000 Seek Again Stakes on the Widener turf course on Saturday, May 22.
Get Smokin, owned by Mary Abeel Sullivan Revocable Trust, started his 4-year-old campaign with a three-quarter length score in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay going 1 1/16 miles on turf on February 6.
The Get Stormy gelding tied a personal-high 95 Beyer Speed Figure which he set in his 2020 finale when he ran a competitive fourth, just three-quarters of a length back to winner Domestic Spending, in a blanket finish in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in November at Del Mar going 1 1/8 miles.
Race 9 at Belmont Park on Saturday, May 22 - Post 5:12 PM
|1||Epic Dreamer||12-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|2||Tiberius Mercurius||30-1||Luis Saez
|3||Tell Your Daddy||10-1||Kendrick Carmouche
|4||Danny California||8-1|| Rider TBA
|5||Get Smokin||5-1||Junior Alvarado
|6||Delaware (GB)||4-1||Manuel Franco
|7||Decorated Invader||5-2||Joel Rosario
|8||Olympic Runner||10-1||John Velazquez
|9||Yankee Division||6-5|| Rider TBA
After running eighth last out in the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile on April 9 at Keeneland, trainer Tom Bush said Get Smokin has been training well at Belmont and could benefit from a more compact racing schedule.
"I'm happy to have the six weeks between races instead of 10 or 11 weeks; it seems he can maintain his conditioning a little better," Bush said.
Get Smokin graduated at second asking over Belmont's turf in September 2019 and last year won his first career stake when besting Seek Again-rival Decorated Invader by a head in the Grade 2 Hill Prince going one mile over a yielding turf course in October.
"He's run on some ground that's had quite a bit of give to it and he's run well," Bush said. "He's also trained well and competed on firm ground."
Get Smokin, who will carry a 3-3-2 lifetime ledger in 13 starts into Saturday, will break from post 5 with Junior Alvarado aboard. Bush said the Seek Again's distance sets up well for his charge.
"He can get a little further than that, but the mile suits him very well," Bush said. "He's won at 1 1/16 miles and was been beaten by less than a length going a mile and an eighth, so it's in his wheelhouse. But a mile is certainly one of his better distances."
Decorated Invader will give the Seek Again field a Grade 1-winner, with the Declaration of War colt carrying his record of 5-2-1 in 11 starts into the weekend.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning, Decorated Invader won the Grade 1 Summer as a juvenile going one mile in September 2019 over Woodbine's turf course and twice won graded stakes in his sophomore campaign. Back-to-back wins in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge last June at Belmont, as well as in his next start in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame going 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga Race Course, helped give the Decorated Invader four stakes wins in his career.
In his 2021 debut, Decorated Invader ran third off a nearly five-month layoff in the Danger's Hour on April 10 going one mile over the Aqueduct Racetrack turf. Despite making his first race back, Clement said he was hoping for more but remains confident in the potential for a strong bounce back at Belmont.
"I was actually very disappointed; he had trained OK, but I was unhappy with the race, unhappy with the trip and unhappy with everything, but that's OK, we just turned the page and moved on," Clement said.
Joel Rosario, aboard for Decorated Invader's last three stakes wins, will be in the irons from post 7.
"Decorated Invader has been training well and we're looking forward to sending him back out there and seeing what happens," Clement said.
Chad Brown will saddle a pair of entrants in the British-bred Delaware and Flavius.
Delaware, owned by Michael Dubb, Nice Guys Stables and Michael Caruso, won the Danger's Hour last month, marking his first North American win in seven starts since arriving from Europe in 2019.
The son of Frankel, a Group 3 winner in France, set a personal best with a 99 Beyer last out and will again be competing at a mile; the same distance he ran third in the Artie Schiller in November at the Big A, finishing just a neck behind Therapist.
Manny Franco will have the call from post 6.
Delaware's stablemate, Flavius, ran fourth in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile last out on March 6 at Santa Anita. Coming off a more than three-month layoff, Flavius netted a 97 Beyer, building on his 2020 finale in which he ran second to Count Again in the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap in November at Del Mar.
Owned and bred by Juddmonte, Flavius won the Tourist Mile in September at Kentucky Downs. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, aboard for that victory, will have the assignment again, breaking from post 10.
Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse will send out a pair of contenders in Gary Barber's Olympic Runner and Epic Racing's Epic Dreamer.
Olympic Runner won his 5-year-old bow, edging Winters Back by a head in a one-mile optional claimer in January at Gulfstream Park. Next out, the son of Gio Ponti rallied to finish second, just a neck back to Venezuelan Hug in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf going 1 1/16 miles in February.
Olympic Runner, who ran fifth last out in the seven-furlong Elusive Quality on April 24 at the Big A, drew post 8 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez tabbed to ride.
Casse will see if Epic Dreamer can get his first stakes win, as the 5-year-old son of Orb's previous top stakes effort came with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 World of Trouble Sprint in February 2020 at Gulfstream.
Epic Dreamer posted a two-length win in a one-mile turf handicap in March at Gulfstream. Making his first start at Belmont since 2018, Epic Dreamer will pick up the services of jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. from post 1.
Rounding out the field is Tiberius Mercurius, who ran fifth in his first start for trainer Tom Albertrani last out in the Danger's Hour, who drew post 2 with Luis Saez aboard; and Tell Your Daddy, fourth in the Elusive Quality for conditioner Tom Morley, who will be seeking his first win in 10 starts [post 3, Kendrick Carmouche].
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez entered Danny California and Yankee Division for the main track only.
The inaugural running of the Seek Again is Race 9 on the 10-race card with a post time of 5:12 p.m. Eastern. First post is 1 p.m.
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