Smokey Smokey Gets First Stakes In Paradise Creek

May 20, 2024

Smokey Smokey hits the wire first. (Adam Coglianese)

By Keith McCalmont

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Pura Vida Investments’ Smokey Smokey picked up his first career stakes win with a narrow neck score over pacesetter Mattingly in Sunday’s Listed $150,000 Paradise Creek, a six-furlong outer turf sprint for sophomores, at Belmont at the Big A. 

Trained by Mike Maker, the Mendelssohn colt arrived from a dead heat for second in his stakes debut on March 23 in the Animal Kingdom traveling six furlongs over the Turfway Park synthetic. 

Smokey Smokey enjoyed a perfect outside pressing trip under Ramon Vazquez from the outermost post 7 in the Paradise Creek to secure a hard-fought score over stakes-winner Mattingly, who had led through splits of 22.45 seconds, 45.11 and 56.47 over the firm going before the Maker trainee prevailed in a final time of 1:08.19.

“I got a beautiful trip. I knew I had a lot of horse. I just waited for the moment to ask him. Right at the moment I asked him, he responded very well,” Vazquez said. “I was very confident the whole way. You can see right when I asked, he responds right away.”

Smokey Smokey broke outward but was quickly corrected to keep watch on the outside from second position while Mattingly dictated terms. Sketch, the even-money favorite under Flavien Prat, stalked in tandem with maiden winner Devil in Disguise but the front two edged clear through the turn and dueled the length of the stretch with Smokey Smokey getting up in the final jumps. 

“He was keeping me in our position. I had a lot of horse. I just had to ride him,” Vazquez said.

The Joe Orseno-trained Mattingly, winner of the Hollywood Beach over Tapeta in September at Gulfstream Park, was game in defeat under jockey Trevor McCarthy.

“He broke like a rocket,” McCarthy said. “I was able to outbreak the inside horse [Feltrinelli] and control the pace. I got a little pressure from Maker [Smokey Smokey], but we put up a dogfight the whole way and I couldn’t ask for any more from my horse.”

It was two lengths back to the closing Feltrinelli in third with Sketch, Summer in Adriane, Devil in Disguise and Laser Sharp rounding out the order of finish. Works for Me and Apollo Ten were scratched.

Smokey Smokey debuted in August at Saratoga Race Course when second in a maiden turf sprint to Good Lord Lorrie, who exited that race to win the Woodhaven from a lengthy layoff. He would graduate at fifth asking in December over the Turfway Park synthetic by besting next-out winner Epic Ride, who would subsequently take the Leonatus and run second in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway before finishing third in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland en route to an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.

Bred in Kentucky by Sanford Robertson, Smokey Smokey banked $82,500 in victory while improving his record to 8-2-2-1. He is out of the War Front mare Weaponry, who is a half-sister to graded stakes-placed Jessica Krupnick. Smokey Smokey returned $15 for a $2 win bet.

Live racing resumes Friday at Belmont at the Big A with a nine-race card. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern. Live racing will be conducted Friday through Monday next week with the Grade 2, $200,000 Pennine Ridge slated for Saturday and the Grade 2, $200,000 Wonder Again on Memorial Day Monday.

@jonathanstettin Great article!

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