Buff My Boots, Sparkle Sprinkle Meet Again in $100,000 Smart Halo

November 10, 2021

LAUREL, Md. – Buff My Boots and Sparkle Sprinkle, respectively first and third in the Maryland Million Lassie last month, are entered to renew their budding rivalry as part of a field of eight for the $100,000 Smart Halo.

Bird Mobberley’s Buff My Boots and Eric Rizer homebred Sparkle Sprinkle have met in each of their past two starts. Buff My Boots ran third and Sparkle Sprinkle sixth in an Oct. 3 starter optional claimer at Laurel that served as their Maryland Million prep.

Buff My Boots set the pace in the Lassie through testing splits of 22.58 and 45.63 seconds and lost the lead by a head to Sparkle Sprinkle once straightened for home before coming on again to get up by a half-length over My Thoughts.

“To tell you the truth, I thought she was beat at the head of the lane when [Sparkle Sprinkle] came to her, and she showed her guts. She dug back in,” trainer John Salzman Jr. said. “There’s no doubt about it, she can run. And she’s fast, and it looks like she’ll carry it a little further. She was sort of going away from those horses. There were some horses that came running late, but she’s a nice filly. She’s done everything I’ve asked of her. Knock on wood, she seems to have come out of that race good.”

Buff My Boots drew outside Post 8 under regular rider J. D. Acosta. If Salzman opts not to run on the quick turnaround, he will point to the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Fillies for Maryland-bred/sired horses going seven furlongs Dec. 4.

“It’s just a little quicker back than I’d like to see off a big effort like she gave me,” Salzman said. “If there’s something that I don’t like or if somebody shows up that I think is really tough, I’ll just skip it and wait for the Maryland-bred race.”

Sparkle Sprinkle was making her stakes debut in the Lassie, her fourth career start. Trained by Jerry Robb, she opened with back-to-back wins Aug. 28 at Timonium and Sept. 18 at Laurel, before running a troubled sixth in the Oct. 3 race won by Click to Confirm, who is also entered in the Smart Halo.

Louis Ulman and Stephen Parker’s Whiteknuckleflyer graduated by a head in her fourth and most recent start, a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight on the Laurel turf Oct. 21. Favored over nine rivals, she raced in stalking position before taking over the top spot past the sixteenth pole and hanging on to win in a photo over Candy Light and Candy Arcade.

“She ran well in that race. The two that were behind her, second and third, were first-time starters that were pretty well-bred and look like they might be nice horses, so I thought it was a pretty good race,” trainer Dale Capuano said. “She came out of it good and breezed well the other day, so we’re going to look at the stake and see how it comes up.”

In addition to her win on turf, Whiteknuckleflyer was also second to Laurel-based Murph in the Sept. 25 Small Wonder sprinting over Delaware Park’s main track. The Smart Halo will be her first race at a distance other than 5 ½ furlongs.

“It pretty much doesn’t matter what kind of track I run her on. She seems to handle both turf and dirt just fine. We’re definitely pleased about that,” Capuano said. “She’s not quite as quick as some of those other fillies, so she doesn’t mind being behind and running on. It works out well.”

Jorge Ruiz returns to ride from Post 4. All fillies will carry 122 pounds.

Click to Confirm, wheeling back in nine days after suffering her first loss while finishing seventh as the favorite in an optional claiming allowance at Laurel; Intrepid Daydream, a 16 ¾-length maiden special weight winner Oct. 20 at Delaware; Luna Belle, fourth by a length in the Lassie; Trade Secret, a last-out winner for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen; and Buy the Best, riding a two-race win streak, round out the field.

Smart Halo, by top Maryland sire Smarten, won the first race on the inaugural Maryland Million Day program in 1986, beating In the Curl by a neck in the Lassie to cap a perfect 3-0 campaign. Bred in Canada by E.P. Taylor and owned by Sam-Son Farm, Smart Halo was trained by Canadian Hall of Famer Jim Day.

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

Photo: Buff My Boots winning the 2021 Maryland Million Lassie. (MJC) 

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