Jacks or Better Farm, Inc.’s Fort Loudon is back at home in trainer Stanley Gold’s barn at Calder Casino & Race Course with the $350,000 Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap as his primary goal.
“Home Sweet Home for Fort Loudon,” exercise rider Christian Wood said.
On Monday, the 4-year-old colt had his first workout in preparation for the Smile Sprint. With Wood aboard, Fort Loudon worked an easy 4 furlongs in :49.20.
“He went good and he came back good, and it’s what I was looking for,” Gold said. “We’re not going to press him a whole lot right now because we’ve still got time, but I don’t want to be too idle with him; keep him level-headed.
“It was just an easy half mile by himself and he handled it well, came back good, and looks good. I’m happy.”
The Smile Sprint, a “Win and You’re In” race in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge that is held at 6 furlongs for 3-year-olds and up, is part of Calder’s biggest day of racing during the Calder meet - the Summit of Speed, held on Saturday, July 6.
Fort Loudon shipped in to Calder on May 30 to prepare for the Smile with Gold after running for trainer Nick Zito in his last 10 starts. He most recently finished sixth in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park. Gold trained Fort Loudon through his entire 2-year-old season and half of his 3-year-old campaign.
“He looks as good as when he left,” Gold said.
Last summer, to kick off his 3-year-old Calder campaign, Fort Loudon was victorious in the 6-furlong In Summation Stakes by two lengths. From there, he ran in the Unbridled Stakes for 3-year-olds during the Summit Preview, where he defeated Bahamian Squall by 3 ¾-lengths. Fort Loudon went on to clinch the Grade 3 Carry Back Stakes for 3-year-olds during the Summit of Speed, earning the win by a neck over Trinniberg, who later went on to win the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint and be awarded the Eclipse Award for champion. The Carry Back was Fort Loudon’s first graded stakes victory.
After the Carry Back, Fort Loudon was sent up north and transferred to Zito. In 10 starts with Zito, he hit the board six times, scoring a victory in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship Stakes at Gulfstream Park , finishing second in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs, and Sunshine State Stakes at Gulfstream, and running third in the Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes and Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap at Gulfstream.
Fort Loudon’s success at Calder began when he was 2. The first time he ran at the 6-furlong distance in a maiden special weight race, Fort Loudon blew away the field, dominating by 10 lengths under a hand ride. He then swept the Florida Stallion Stakes, which is comprised of three races of increasing distance that are first run at 6 furlongs and then 7 furlongs, before increasing to 1 1/16-miles, exclusively for Florida-bred Thoroughbreds.
One of Fort Loudon’s potential competitors for the Smile Sprint is merely a stall away. Stablemate Jackson Bend is a Grade 1-winner who finished fifth in the Ponche Handicap during the Summit Preview at Calder on Saturday in his first start back after coming out of retirement. Like Fort Loudon, he also swept the Florida Stallion Stakes when he was a 2-year-old.
“If they are both still here then and they both run in the Smile, I think that would be a pretty potent 1-2 punch, because Jackson is going to come off the pace and Fort Loudon has the tactical speed to be anywhere you want to put him. They both look good and they’re both training good. I wouldn’t want to trade places with anybody,” Gold said.
Owner Jacks or Better Farm, Inc. has yet to make a final decision on the 6-year-old Jackson Bend running in the Smile Sprint with Fort Loudon.
“He certainly benefited from the race and he came back 100-percent good, full of himself, so I have no problem with running them both,” Gold said.
Jackson Bend’s half-brother, the 5-year-old Grande Shores, finished third in the Ponche, but is not expected to run in the Smile Sprint. His next race is yet to be determined. He will most likely work in company with Fort Loudon in Fort Loudon’s upcoming workouts for the Smile Sprint.
IMPRESSIVE MAIDEN WINNERS HEADLINE NOMINATIONS FOR 2-YEAR-OLD STAKES
Nominations for the Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes and the J J’s Dream Stakes, the first stakes races of the year for 2-year-olds, were released on Monday, and both races to be held on June 22 attracted stellar maiden victors.
For the $100,000 Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes to be run at 5 ½ furlongs, 17 colts, five geldings, and two fillies were nominated.
Heading the nominees for the Frank Gomez Memorial is Gelfenstein Farm’s Brothersofthetime. In his first time out on May 17 at Calder, Brothersofthetime blew by his competitors down the stretch to score by 5 ¼-lengths. He raced alongside the pacesetter before overtaking her heading into the stretch and clearing away.
Rontos Racing Stable Corp.’s Breitling Flyer also won first-time out at Calder. On June 1, Breitling Flyer won a 5-furlong maiden special weight race by 1 ¾-lengths after being caught tight inside at the turn and having to switch to the outside to make his stretch run.
On June 2 at Monmouth Park, Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa’s Yes I’m Lucky took a 4 ½-furlong maiden special weight victory in Monmouth Park first time out, coming up by just a head after battling down the stretch to overtake the leader and win.
The $100,000 J J’s Dream Stakes for fillies at 5 ½ furlongs drew 22 nominations.
Gilbert G. Campbell’s Scandalous Act dominated her competitors in her first-time out on May 18 at Calder in a 4 ½-furlong maiden special weight race as the post-time favorite, leading the way and leaving the field in her wake as she crossed the wire 6 ½-lengths ahead under a hand ride. She worked a 5-furlong bullet at Calder on Sunday, with a time of 1:02 flat.
Fillies that would be shipping in for the race are Glenview Farm and Chris Bandy’s Sara Bay, Wesley A. Ward’s Sweetmarys Success, and Klavarich Stables, Inc. and William Lawrence’s Divergent View.
Sara Bay was victorious by 4 ¾-lengths in a 4 ½-furlong maiden special weight race at Monmouth Park on June 1, cruising home after leading the way ahead of her competitors as the post-time favorite.
Sweetmarys Success broke her maiden at Churchill Downs in a 4 ½-furlong maiden special weight race on May 1 three lengths ahead as the post-time favorite.
Divergent View finished fourth against Sweetmarys Success before breaking her maiden by a ¾-lengh margin at 5 ½-furlongs next time out on May 31 at Churchill.