06/11/2009 11:00PM

Benny the Bull returning for Smile

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Barbara D. Livingston
Benny the Bull will go for a repeat victory in the Smile Sprint Handicap.

MIAMI - While Saturday's Ponche Handicap will determine part of the supporting cast for the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap on July 11, there is little doubt who the star of the show will be: defending champ Benny the Bull.

Trainer Rick Dutrow confirmed this week that the six-furlong Smile remains Benny the Bull's major objective following his second-place finish behind Fabulous Strike in Saturday's True North Handicap.

"He came out of the race good, and as long as nothing happens and the weights are fair, we'll be there," Dutrow said by phone on Friday, while also confirming that Edgar Prado will again accompany Benny the Bull to Calder for the Smile.

Benny the Bull, with Prado aboard, rallied to a two-length victory over How's Your Halo in the 2008 Smile Sprint. Benny the Bull suffered an ankle injury after the Smile, and the True North was his first start since.

"I was thrilled with his race last weekend," said Dutrow. "I don't know how he could have run much better off the bench like that from the one hole. He ran unbelievable. He looks good man and he's got plenty of time to get over that race, and we've got plenty of time to get down there. He's easy to train, so it doesn't matter to me whether he has his last work up here in New York or down there at Calder. Whenever Tex Sutton can get him down there, that's when we'll go."

Dutrow said he's got no plans for Benny the Bull beyond the Smile.

"The biggest thing happening for him is the race at Calder and then we'll see what happens after that," said Dutrow. "With the Breeders' Cup on the synthetic track in California again this year, I'm not jumping out of hoops to bring him there. I'm dreaming of getting Kip to the mile race on Breeders' Cup Day. I'm not dreaming of getting Benny there for that."

Turf sprint looks wide open

A pair of entry-level allowance races will highlight Sunday's 11-race card, the first scheduled for the turf and the second over the main track.

Chihulykee, a former stakes winner on grass, tops a wide-open group of sprinters slated to go five furlongs in the eighth event. Chihulykee has been washed off the turf in each of his last two starts, although he did defeat similarly conditioned optional claiming and allowance opposition over the main track on May 18. His chief opposition could come from Somes Sound and Castle Concert if the race goes as carded over the grass course.

Lightly raced 3-year-old Sail Cove will be stretching out around two turns for the first time and will likely be favored to defeat six other 3-year-olds in Sunday's 10th race. Sail Cove, a son of Gone West, led throughout to post a decisive 4 1/2-length maiden special weight victory for trainer Phil Gleaves in just his second career start here on May 23.

The improving Peterson, consistent Temo's Dream, and recent conditioned claiming winner Dealing Lucky also come off sprint outings and figure to provide Sail Cove with his sternest challenges.