Smash Ticket gets top billing in G2 Raven Run

October 21, 2022

Law Professor to target G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Brad King, Stan Kirby, Suzanne Kirby and Barbara Coleman’s graded stakes-placed Smash Ticket is listed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Saturday’s Grade 2 Raven Run, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies at Keeneland.

Trained by Rob Atras, the dark bay daughter of Midnight Lute has won 4-of-6 starts, including a last-out score in the six-furlong Weather Vane at Pimlico that garnered a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure.

Smash Ticket won her seasonal debut by 11 lengths against older company in May at Lone Star Park before heading to New York and prevailing by a neck on debut for Atras in a six-furlong optional-claimer also against elders on July 20 at Saratoga Race Course. 

“She had a couple minor issues that prevented us from running her after that at Saratoga and we picked out that race for her return,” Atras said. “She’d been training very good, and we thought she’d run a big race. I was really impressed with how she finished up. She just dominated that race and visually it was very impressive.”

With returning rider Kendrick Carmouche up, Smash Ticket marked off splits of 23.12 and 45.55 in the Weather Vane, drawing off by open lengths in a final time of 1:09.99.

“She got the lead pretty easy. The pace wasn’t real quick, but she came home really fast. That’s what I liked about it the most,” Atras said.

Bred in Kentucky by King, Smash Ticket started her career with conditioner 

Todd Fincher, graduating at second asking last July at Del Mar ahead of a distant third-place finish in the Grade 2 Sorrento one month later at the same track.

Carmouche will travel to Lexington to guide Smash Ticket from post 2 in a field of nine that features a number of New York-connected fillies, including the undefeated New York-bred Fingal’s Cave for trainer David Donk; the John Terranova-trained pair of Union Lake and Midnight Stroll; Saratoga allowance winner Colorful Mischief for Hall of Fame conditioner Todd Pletcher; and the Spa’s Grade 2 Prioress-winner Wicked Halo for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

Smash Ticket has dealt with inside posts in each of her two previous starts and Atras said he expects another forward trip.

“With an inside post, you don’t have too many options,” Atras said. “I think speed is her biggest weapon, so our goal is to break sharp and get her right out there. Hopefully, she can clear on her own. After that, it’s up to Kendrick.”

Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ graded stakes-winner Law Professor finished a game second to Breeders’ Cup Classic-bound Life Is Good last out in the nine-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward on October 1 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.

Law Professor settled in third position under Jose Ortiz in the Woodward as the Irad Ortiz, Jr.-piloted Life Is Good carved out three-quarters in 1:13.07 over the sloppy and sealed main track. Law Professor took aim at the leader with three-eighths to run and stayed on well to the wire to finish just 1 1/4-lenghts back of the multiple Grade 1-winner.

“It was a short field and he really settled down and it looked like he had a big shot, but I don’t know if he did or not,” Atras said. “When Irad got into him [Life Is Good] and asked him again, he obviously had more horse. I take nothing away from our horse’s effort. I thought he ran well, but Life Is Good is still a great horse.”

Law Professor worked a half-mile in 50.56 seconds October 16 over Big Sandy in his first breeze back and Atras said the 4-year-old Constitution gelding will now target the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland.

“Right now, we’re pointing towards the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile,” Atras said. “He’s a very versatile horse and he shows up every time. I don’t blame them for wanting to take a shot. His numbers are good and he’s doing really well right now.

“He bounced out of the race really good,” Atras added. “Ever since we got him back to running he’s been very focused and very sharp in the mornings. He has a really good mind on him and it makes him very easy to train.”

Law Professor, who boasts two wins each on dirt and turf, captured the mile and 70-yard Tapit off a five-month layoff on September 1 at Kentucky Downs while making his first appearance for Atras ahead of the Woodward.

He was initially campaigned by Michael McCarthy, taking the off-the-turf Grade 2 Mathis Mile in December at Santa Anita. He followed with a game runner-up effort to Express Train in the nine-furlong Grade 2 San Pasqual in February at Santa Anita before returning to turf with a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile at the same track. 

Atras said he is hopeful that Law Professor can reach yet another level on dirt.

“He trains so good on the dirt and the owner believes the horse is just as good, if not better, on the dirt,” Atras said. “I was excited to hear that from him and I thought the same thing. I’m glad he ran so good the other day.”

Michael Dubb and Gandharvi Racing Stables’ Battle Bling, a 4-year-old graded stakes-placed daughter of Vancouver, has won her last two starts led by a handicap score under Ortiz, Jr. in September at Colonial Downs and a prominent 1 1/4-length win engineered by Angel Cruz in the 1 1/16-mile Twixt last out over sloppy going on October 1 at Laurel Park.

“I told Angel Cruz to ride her like Irad did – give her a good sharp break and keep her close,” Atras said. “I didn’t see a ton of pace in that race [the Twixt] and the track was off that day, so I didn’t think anything would be closing too much. It seemed to work out well.”

Atras said Battle Bling will breeze Saturday at Belmont in preparation for the nine-furlong Grade 3, $150,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap on November 4 at the Big A.

Battle Bling boasts a perfect in-the-money record of 4-1-3-0 at the Big A, led by win in the nine-furlong Ladies in January.

Michael Dubb and Michael J. Caruso’s New York-bred Saint Selby, a 4-year-old Kantharos gelding, will have some time off after finishing last-of-6 in an open optional-claimer last out on September 30.

The $75,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-bred Yearling Sale purchase has won 4-of-8 starts for Atras, including an 8 1/2-length score in an open allowance sprint in July at Belmont ahead of a pacesetting third against fellow state-breds in the six-furlong John Morrissey on August 12 at Saratoga. 

“We’re going to have to give him a little time,” Atras said. “He made a couple big efforts and then a couple efforts we thought should have been better. We know he’s a better horse than that, so we’ll give him a little bit of time and hopefully have him back next year.”

Atras said he would prefer Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael J. Caruso’s Excellent Timing try state-bred allowance company next, but the gelding remains under consideration for the 6 1/2-furlong $150,000 Hudson against fellow state-breds on October 30 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.

The 4-year-old son of Not This Time joined the Atras barn this year and made two pacesetting starts led by a third-place finish in his seasonal debut in an optional-claimer in August at the Spa. He faded to fifth last out on September 23 here in a state-bred sprint.

“I thought his first race was pretty good off the layoff and his last race wasn’t quite what we were looking for,” Atras said. “I’d like to get him another shot at that level and hopefully he can redeem himself. I think he’s capable of much better.”

Bred by Sequel Stallions and Lakland Farm, Excellent Timing was a runaway winner of the 2021 Damon Runyon against fellow state-breds at the Big A.

NYRA Press Office
Photo: Smash Ticket winning the Weather Vane at Pimlico. Maryland Jockey Club Photo

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