Vartan Vartanov’s Triple Crown nominee Tashir drove around the turn and took a clear lead in the stretch in the 1-mile $75,000 Smooth Air Stakes at Calder Casino & Race Course on Sunday to win by 3 ½-lengths and earn his first career stakes victory.
Tashir, who was ridden to victory by Myrzabek Kappushev and trained by Gennadi Dorochenko, broke fourth from the gate and let Giancarlo and Gone as Wind go ahead for the early lead out of the gate. Heading onto the backside
Giancarlo stayed ahead while Kodiak Kody and Tashir raced behind him and Gone as Wind dropped to fourth. Kodiak Kody remained right on the heels of Giancarlo and went to his outside around the far turn. As the two fought for the lead heading into the final turn, Tashir moved into action around the turn and drove down the lane past the frontrunners with a clear lead. King Cyrus and Monopolize tried to catch Tashir but to no avail.
Fractional times for the race were :24.58, :49.06, and 1:13.79, with a final time of 1:39.87.
Tashir went into the Smooth Air off of a sixth-place finish in the 7-furlong Grade III Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 1. In his other career stakes appearances which came at Delaware Park, he finished fourth in the 5 ½-furlong Strike Your Colors Stakes last July and third in the 1-mile Whirling Ash Stakes last September. He is now 3-for-8 lifetime with earnings $104,707.
“He’s starting to grow a little bit,” said Dorochenko. “He’s starting to be much, much better right now. He was very little.”
As for Tashir’s next start and a continued run in Triple Crown prep races, the decision of where he will go from his Smooth Air win is yet to be made.
“We’ll see tomorrow how he is feeling and everything, but he already ran big,” said Dorochenko. “I don’t know if we have a chance; I wish maybe to go to the Kentucky Derby.”
“I want to say thank you very much to Vartan Vartanov, the owner, for giving me the opportunity training his horse,” said Dorochenko. “He’s a great horseman; he loves horses.”
Tashir paid $5.40, $3.60, and $3.00 for the win. King Cyrus brought $4.40 and $3.20 for the place, and Monopolize returned $3.60 for the show.
Rounding out the order of finish were Kodiak Kody; Giancarlo; Condestable; Gone as Wind; Sea of Faces; and Roar of Raul. Gaining Ground and Kulboyz were scratched.