Brittlyn Stable, Inc.’s Gantry, the likely favorite for next weekend’s Grade 2 Smile Sprint, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In race, took to the Calder Casino & Race Course main track on Sunday to put in place the final piece of his preparatory puzzle, blasting a bullet half-mile workout in :47.60.
“Everything is good, and he came back in great shape,” trainer Ron Faucheux said. “It was a little quicker than what we would have liked, but two horses broke off in front of him and that had him a little too sharp when he broke off, wanting to chase after them.”
Faucheux shipped the son of Pulpit to Calder earlier this week with intentions on getting the horse a work over the track, and today’s move gave added confidence to the young conditioner.
“I didn’t think he was going as fast as he was, and when my exercise rider came back, he asked me ‘what did I go in, fifty?’” Faucheux said. “So we were both surprised at the time, but the rider never asked him to do that, the horse was doing it on his own and was always with a firm hold. I was very encouraged by it.”
Faucheux seems comfortable in knowing that Gantry could be favored for the Smile, and the trainer is keeping close tabs on the competition, both known and unknown.
“We ran with Apriority in the race at Churchill, so we’re familiar with him,” Faucheux said. “It’s a little hard to say how tough Field Commission is. He got a big number winning that last race, but the horse he beat was coming off a $25,000 claim, so it’s hard to know what to make of it.
“Other than that, barring some last minute change, I’m hearing that we could be the only shipper for the race. And seeing my horse go the way he did today, and appearing to like the surface here, I feel pretty confident about our chances.”
In his last start, Gantry finished third in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint where he checked in behind 2011 Preakness winner Shackleford and last year’s Eclipse Award champion sprinter Amazombie. Prior to that outing, the son of Pulpit rattled off three straight stakes wins at Fair Grounds, and is unbeaten in six starts at the six-furlong distance of the Smile.
CAJUN BREEZE CONFIRMED FOR SMILE SPRINT
Following a blistering three-furlong move in :34, trainer Michael Yates confirmed that Cajun Breeze, who hasn’t started since a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 10, would start in the Smile Sprint.
“I thought he really worked lights-out today,” Yates said. “That may have been as good, or even better, than anything we’ve seen from him in the morning. Juan (Leyva) took a good hold of him for the gallop-out, so he didn’t do too much, and we’re very pleased with the way he’s coming up to the race.”
Cajun Breeze, who shipped from Calder to Ocala in mid-March, resumed training in early May and put in most of his prep work for the Smile while at the farm, not returning to his south Florida stall until the early-morning hours of June 30.
“We had planned on getting him here a little sooner, but with all the rain we had up there, we weren’t able to get that done until a few days ago,” Yates said. “But we got him here, galloped him the other day, and the plan was to work him today, and if he went well and came back good, we’d go ahead and enter him in the Smile. And that’s what we’ll do.”
BOUQUET BOOTH BREEZES EASY THREE-EIGHTHS
Right Time Racing, LLC’s Bouquet Booth, a powerful six-length winner when cutting back to six furlongs for a top-shelf allowance at Churchill Downs in her last, breezed an easy three furlongs at Calder Sunday morning, covering the trip in :39.
The Steve Margolis-trained daughter of Flower Alley is scheduled for a start in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney.