10/08/2011 12:18AM

Belmont: Sunrise Smarty preps for De Francis Dash


The $60,000 Duck Dance on Sunday at Belmont Park, run at 6 1/2 furlongs, includes a bevy of stakes winners seemingly past their prime. One horse potentially on the rise is Sunrise Smarty, who could offer a bit of a value in the eight-horse field.

Sunrise Smarty returned from a five-month layoff to win a six-furlong allowance race at Saratoga on Sept. 2. Trainer Mike Hushion was impressed enough with that effort to target the $150,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park on Oct. 22. But he didn’t want to wait that long to run Sunrise Smart so he’s using the Duck Dance as a prep.

“He’s doing very well, I didn’t want to sit on him another two weeks and work him another two times for the De Francis,’’ Hushion said.

Hushion hopes Sunrise Smarty can run the same kind of race Sunday as he ran at Saratoga.

“I thought his last race was exceptional,’’ Hushion said.

Sunrise Smarty, who will be ridden by Jose Lezcano, figures to stalk the speedy Pashito the Che, who makes his first start on dirt since finishing last in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Riley Tucker, This One’s for Phil, and Bank Merger are all stakes winners in less than their best form. Flat Bold makes his first start off the Rudy Rodriguez claim. Rule by Night has yet to run back to the race he ran 11 months ago at Aqueduct when he beat Sunrise Smarty.