06/19/2011 6:18PM

Belmont Park: Smokin Hero shrugs off potential bad omens before Noble Nashua


ELMONT, N.Y. - In his first 26 career starts, Smokin Hero had never raced beyond 6 1/2 furlongs and never won beyond six furlongs. Just minutes prior to his first start at a mile in Sunday’s $60,000 Noble Nashua Stakes at Belmont Park, Smokin Hero reared up several times while needing to be re-saddled at the starting gate.

None of the potential above negatives mattered as Smokin Hero re-rallied in the stretch to wear down Spa City Fever and take the Noble Nashua by a head. It was a neck back to favored Johannesburg Smile in third. Slevin was fourth followed by Naughty New Yorker, beaten 14 1/4 lengths, and Most Happy Fella who was essentially eased. Be Bullish, claimed out of an allowance win Friday, and Uncle T Seven scratched.

The victory was the eighth from 27 starts for Smokin Hero, a 5-year-old son of Smokin Mel owned by Brous Stable, Wachtel Stable, and R. D. Hubbard.

Breaking from the outside post under Alan Garcia, Smokin Hero actually broke on top and dueled outside of Spa City Fever through an opening quarter in 23.38 seconds. Johannesburg Smile joined the duo while three wide and the half went in 45.98 seconds. It appeared Smokin Hero was done as he dropped back to fourth around the turn.

But in the stretch, he came on again while racing four wide and persevered to the wire to get up in the final two jumps.

Smokin Hero covered the distance in 1:36.19 and returned $18.80 to win.