ELMONT, N.Y. – Entering the $100,000 Seek Again for 4-year-olds and up going one mile on Belmont Park’s Widener turf course, trainer Tom Bush said he was optimistic Get Smokin would benefit from a more compact schedule between starts. The ability to get in a rhythm paid off, as the Get Stormy gelding led the eight-horse field through every point of call and held off 9-5 favorite Flavius to post a three-quarters of a length score on Saturday.
Get Smokin, who won the Grade 3 Tampa Bay going 1 1/16 miles on the Tampa Bay Downs turf on February 6, ran eighth after a nearly two-month respite in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile on April 9 at Keeneland. Bush said Get Smokin can better demonstrate his ability when wheeling back in just five or six weeks, and the schedule adjustment resulted in his second win in three starts of his 4-year-old campaign.
Get Smokin broke sharp under jockey Junior Alvarado, leading the field through the opening quarter-mile in 24.25 seconds and the half in a moderate 48.61 over the firm turf as the Chad Brown-trained Flavius pressured the pacesetter from the second position.
Out of the turn, Alvarado kept his charge alert, maintaining the edge as Flavius made a stretch-drive bid from the outside. But Get Smokin did not wilt under pressure, finishing strong to the wire in a final time of 1:33.96.
“He’s very quick,” Alvarado said. “If anyone else wants the lead, they have to work very hard. He broke sharp today again, which makes my job easy. I just had to nurse him along. Turning for home, I knew I had plenty of horse left and he gave me that nice kick that he has.
“You can never get too excited until you cross the wire first, but I was very happy with the pace I was going with him,” he added. “He was traveling comfortable enough that I knew he’d have a kick at the end.”
Bush, who also trained Get Stormy to nine stakes wins from 2009-12, said the pace scenario set up well for Get Smokin.
“He’s dangerous on the front end, that’s for sure,” Bush said. “When they’re loping along like that and they aren’t using themselves too much, you’re always happy to see that. I knew they’d be laying a little closer, too, since we were the only speed, but they couldn’t get by him. It was a terrific effort.”
Owned by Mary Abeel Sullivan Revocable Trust, Get Smokin won for the third time in four career Belmont starts, going 2-for-2 in stakes at the Elmont-based track after winning the Grade 2 Hill Prince in October. Bred in Kentucky by Hurstland Farm and James Greene, Jr., Get Smokin improved to 4-3-2 in 14 career starts and increased his career earnings to $376,040.
“Junior was saying after the race that he would love for this horse to have a target and just lay second or third, but he’s so good leaving the gate that you can’t take the gate away from him,” Bush said. “This is what we were looking for today. That’s the class of the horse. He didn’t get discouraged and that’s what good horses do.”
Off at 9-2, Get Smokin returned $10.80 on a $2 win wager in the Seek Again’s inaugural edition. Bush said the effort could set him up for a start in the Grade 3, $250,00 Poker going one mile on June 20 at Belmont.
Flavius, a close fourth last out in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita, was making just the second start of his 6-year-old year after ending 2020 with a second in the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap in November at Del Mar. Flavius edged the Tom Morley-trained Tell Your Daddy by a nose for second on Saturday.
“It was a fun race because the two best horses fought all the way from the beginning to the finish,” said Flavius’ Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano. “There was no pace in the race and he [Get Smokin] had pace and went pretty slow. With no pace and the winner being able to go 24 and 48, that probably cost us the race.”
Fellow Brown trainee Delaware finished fourth, with Grade 1-winner Decorated Invader running fifth. Tiberius Mercurius, Olympic Runner and Epic Dreamer completed the order of finish.
Main track-only entrants Danny California and Yankee Division were scratched.
Live racing continues Sunday with a nine-race card and a 1 p.m. Eastern first post.
Starting on May 1, Belmont Park re-opened to a limited number of spectators. All admission must be purchased in advance at nyra.com/belmont/tickets/.
For comprehensive information on health and safety protocols in effect for the Belmont Park spring/summer meet, please visit: https://www.nyra.com/belmont/visit/plan-your-visit.
Belmont Park Press Release