07/11/2008 11:00PM

Benny the Bull runs off with Smile


MIAMI - Benny the Bull continued to prove he's a road warrior while solidifying his position atop the nation's sprint division with a convincing two-length victory over local longshot How's Your Halo in Saturday's $400,000 Smile Handicap at Calder. The Grade 2 Smile highlighted Calder's marquee event, the Summit of Speed, which included three other graded stakes topped by the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap.

With regular rider Edgar Prado aboard, Benny the Bull bided his time near the rear of the pack while Man of Danger, Ravalo, and Blue Pepsi Lodge battled through fractions of 21.85 seconds and 45.64. Benny the Bull angled sharply to the extreme outside while commencing his rally approaching the stretch, then finished with a strong burst of speed down the center of the course to easily overtake the tiring leaders inside the eighth pole and win going away.

The 50-1 How's Your Halo rallied along the rail, outfinishing Rockerfeller by one length to be second. Rockerfeller, who easily defeated How's Your Halo winning the Ponche Handicap here four weeks earlier, raced in perfect position behind the embattled leaders but came up empty in the final furlong.

Benny the Bull, who has won his last five starts - all at different racetracks - ran six furlongs in 1:11.41 under high weight of 124 pounds and paid $4.60.

"I haven't talked to Edgar yet, but I guess he felt he had plenty of horse and thought he could take that kind of shot angling to the outside like he did," said trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., who watched the Smile from New York. "In fact, I think he runs better outside horses. He sat on the rail a couple of times last year at Saratoga and didn't really finish as strong."

Dutrow said he's uncertain what will be next for Benny the Bull on the road to the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Because the Smile is a Win and You're In race, Saturday's victory automatically qualified Benny the Bull for that Breeders' Cup event.

"I couldn't be happier with his race today," said Dutrow. "From the looks of it I think it was one of his better efforts. I'd say either the Forego or Vosburgh at Saratoga would be next. That gives us plenty of time to get him ready for the Breeders' Cup."