With the complexion of the Grade 2 Smile Sprint appearing to hinge on the decision of whether or not superstar sophomore sprinter Trinniberg is going to run there or in the Grade 3 Carry Back Stakes, at least one trainer isn’t all that concerned about the possible presence of the lightning-quick colt. In fact, trainer Ron Faucheux, the conditioner of Louisiana invader Gantry, is kind of hoping to see Trinniberg in the Calder Casino & Race Course starting gate for the Smile.
“To be honest, I wouldn’t have any problem at all with him being in the race,” Faucheux said Friday afternoon. “Provided there is another horse in there that will go with him.
“But if he were to run in the Carry Back and that other fast horse (Artefacto) goes in the turf sprint, there isn’t much pace in the Smile, and that’s not great for us. So part of me wants to see him run; I want to see a speed duel up front.”
During his three-stake winning streak at Fair Grounds earlier this year, Gantry was the clear beneficiary of some fast horses going fast up front, a scenario he hopes to encounter again on Saturday.
“In those races he won at Fair Grounds, he was able to sit about third while the same two horses, Joe Hollywood and Cash Refund, went after each other on the lead,” Faucheux said. “Each and every time those horses went at it up front, and each and every time time we won. I’d be happy if the same thing happened tomorrow.”
In his final day of preparation for the Smile, Gantry toured the Calder main track and continued to display a developing affinity for the local surface that has the trainer confident.
“We just let him go to the track today and jog a bit; basically let him do whatever he wanted as long as it was something light to keep him fresh,” Faucheux said. “He’s been coming along real nice since we got him down here. Being based out of Louisiana he’s had no trouble adapting to the climate, and he really seems to love the track.”
BECAUSEI’MWORTHIT BACK AT CALDER FOR TURF SPRINT
Though trainer Monte Thomas is stabled at Calder, and his 4-year-old filly Becausei’mworthit exits a local stakes win just three weeks ago in the $55,000 Cool Air, the daughter of Indian Express had to take to the road in advance of Saturday’s $100,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint, shipping down from Ocala on July 3.
“I took her right out of here the night of her last race,” Thomas said. “She’s always been a very difficult horse to train at a racetrack. She’s real tough, and if I train her on the track it really takes a lot out of her. She just pulls so hard and wants to do so much. So I like keeping her at the farm and away from the track.”
So in lieu of a regular racetrack regiment that is so familiar to most thoroughbred race horses, Becausei’mworthit ships and then runs, and then ships out again to await her next race.
“There’s a training center up north that is a few miles from my farm,” Thomas said. “There are some horses stabled there and it’s kind of like a track environment, although not nearly as busy. So I take her there to work and do most of her training. That way she’s still around horses, but in a quieter setting.”
Since arriving at Calder three days ago, Thomas has sent the filly to the main track for morning gallops, although she doesn’t make the trip alone.
“She always goes with the pony,” Thomas said. “That keeps her calm.”
Keeping Becausei’mworthit calm has never been an easy task, and the filly’s temperament isn’t the sole reason. Earlier this year, in February, while being housed at an equine therapy center in Marion County, Becausei’mworthit was on site, and by the trainer’s account only a few stalls away, when a hyperbaric chamber exploded, killing a 28-year-old woman and one horse.
“She was at that equine center when that hyperbaric chamber exploded and that really rattled her good,” Thomas said. “She was tough to deal with before that, but you can’t imagine what that did to her. After that we took her right back to my farm and we decided to give her plenty of time to recover. And we never asked her to do anything until she wanted to.”
After recording just one official workout at Gunn Farm in Sparr, an unincorporated community in Marion County, Becausei’mworthit shipped to Calder for the Cool Air, in which she led at every call en route to a two-length triumph.
“I though that was a real nice effort,” Thomas said. “She’s the kind of filly that you can’t really rate, you just have to let her go and do what she wants to do. But (jockey) Jose (Lopez) has been on her enough, he knows that, and he rode her perfect.”
Off that performance, Thomas was lacking in options for the filly, so he picked out Saturday’s race against males as her next target.
“There really wasn’t anywhere else to go with her, so we decided we would go ahead and try this spot,” Thomas said. “I don’t think she’ll have any trouble running with colts, and then after the race we’ll give her a little more time off and see what comes up.”
And while the Cool Air was run over the Calder main track and the Bob Umphrey is slated for the grass, Thomas doesn’t believe a surface switch is going to prove difficult for his filly.
“I’m not sure the surface makes that much of a difference, I expect her to run on grass just like she did on the dirt last time.”
PRIVATELY PURCHASED PEB HUGHES TO TRY SMILE
Purchased privately after a dominating 11-length allowance win at Calder on June 14, JMJ Racing Stables, LLC’s Peb Hughes, who as recently as last December was competing in a $10,000 claiming race at Gulfstream, will take the biggest test of his career on Saturday when starting in the Smile Sprint.
“He was bought out of his last start where he ran a real big number, but this race wasn’t the reason why the new owner purchased him,” new trainer Joe Catanese explained. “But since the old owners had nominated him to the race, and it looked like the race might be coming up a little light, we decided to throw him in the entry box and take a shot.”
Catanese worked the son of Henny Hughes on the morning of July 2, the day entries for the Summit of Speed were being taken. The gelding covered a half-mile in :48.80 over a fast track, the fifth quickest of 24 moves at the distance.
“I thought he worked good the other day; I was happy with it,” Catanese said. “I’ve only had him about two weeks, but he’s done really well in that time, and we’ll see what he can do tomorrow.”