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Calder: Lukas eyes Smile Sprint Handicap for Hamazing Destiny
MIAMI – It’s been a decade since trainer D. Wayne Lukas brought Orientate down to Calder to win the 2002 Smile Sprint Handicap, the second in a string of five straight victories for the ultimate division champion that concluded with his triumph three months later in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Lukas is hoping to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Orientate’s successful invasion in the Grade 2 Smile by winning the race again this summer with his 2010 BC Sprint runner-up Hamazing Destiny. Hamazing Destiny, 6, is coming off a fourth-place finish in Belmont Park’s Grade 2 True North, a race marred when defending Smile Sprint winner Giant Ryan broke down nearing midstretch.
“I’m looking very seriously at the Smile,” Lukas said Tuesday. “The problem is trying to make flight arrangements. Getting them out of there is the biggest problem. He’ll go directly to Saratoga from Florida, and I don’t want to have to van him there.”
Lukas said he was pleased but also a bit frustrated with the outcome of the True North.
“When the horse broke down, it happened right in front of us,” Lukas said. “The way we were moving at the time, Corey [Nakatani] said he thought he could have finished second, at least no worse than third, if he didn’t have to alter course. I still have to shake out Corey’s situation for the Smile as well, but if we can work everything out, I’d really like to run in that race.”
Hamazing Destiny is one of three horses exiting the True North nominated for the six-furlong Smile, along with Justin Phillip and Crossbow. But at the moment, he appears to be the only one of the trio likely to come down for the race.
Justin Phillip, a game second behind Caixa Eletronica in the True North, is one of three horses that trainer Steve Asmussen nominated to the Smile, along with Rothko and Joe Hollywood. Asmussen said Monday that he has no plans to run any of them in the Smile.
Crossbow is one of two speedsters from trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s barn eligible for the Smile, along with Emcee. But McLaughlin said Monday it is unlikely he’ll send either.
“If the race comes up light, we might take a chance on bringing Crossbow down,” McLaughlin said. “The race shape wasn’t to his liking in the True North, and he didn’t run great, but it was the first step up for him into graded stakes company.”
The Smile, the only designated Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup race on the Calder stakes schedule, drew 25 nominations. The local contingent is led by Field Commission, upset winner of the Ponche Handicap earlier this month in his first start following a lengthy hiatus, and Apriority, who turned in a disappointing effort as the heavy favorite in the Ponche.
The only confirmed shipper for the Smile is Gantry, a Louisiana-based gelding trained by Ron Faucheux. Gantry has not started since finishing third behind Shackleford and Amazombie in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
The Smile will share top billing on the July 7 Summit of Speed card along with the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap, which attracted two dozen nominations led by Sassy Image and Musical Romance, the one-two finishers, respectively, in last year’s edition of the race.
The Summit of Speed card, which will be drawn Monday, will have six stakes overall and also includes the Grade 3 Carry Back and Grade 3 Azalea.
The nomination list for the Carry Back is led by arch rivals Trinniberg and Currency Swap, who recently finished first and second, in that order, in Belmont’s Woody Stephens. That result turned the tables on the pair’s first meeting won by Currency Swap in Saratoga’s 2011 Hopeful.
Juveniles get Saturday spotlight
Two-year-olds will be the center of attention on Saturday’s program, which features the $100,000 J J’sdream for juvenile fillies and the $100,000 Frank Gomez Memorial for the boys. The attractive card also includes the $55,000 American Dreamer Stakes for 3-year-olds, which lured a field of seven led by Ravelo’s Boy who will be making his first start since the Belmont Stakes.
Six of the nine fillies entered for the 5 1/2-furlong J J’sdream are undefeated, led by Impossible Mary and I Ain’t Gonna Lie. The Frank Gomez lineup is headed by trainer Kathleen O’Connell’s pair of Dan the Irishman and Two T’s at Two B, both of whom were runaway winner’s of their only starts; and Sr. Quisqueyano who shaded 53 seconds for 4 1/2 furlongs en route to capturing his only start April 22.
◗ Luis Saez, who will be aboard Ravelo’s Boy for the first time in the American Dreamer, blew open the race for the 2012 Calder riding title a little further last weekend after posting back-to-back four-baggers Saturday and Sunday. Saez enters Thursday’s card with a comfortable 63-43 advantage over his nearest pursuer, apprentice Joe Rodriguez.
Sad that people who really don't have a clue what has gone on in the industry just love to bash someone who has contributed what Wayne has. I've come to the conclusion that what ails racing and what is taking it down are all of the so called fans who do nothing to support the game but feel the right to criticize those in it who kept it going for decades. You want everyone over a certain age to retire? Jerkens, Zito, Nafzger all of them are past their prime. Better yet take all of them out and shoot them. Seriously, there are far better people than any of you on here who admired and trusted Wayne. Too bad only the weak people hiding behind an internet personna spew this garbage.
Lukas doesn't break them down . They break down because they are racehorses. In a stable of 1500 horses some of them are going to break down. Peta plants !!
and to all 4 of you that show no respect to mr lucas. i am satisfied that non of the 4 of you are horseman enough to clean stalls for wayne lucas. have a good day "an ole railbird".
OMG -- I just realized article says Lukas was frustrated cause horse broke down in front of him and took his horse out of race. Exactly what I said before -- no compassion. This guy needs to retire from sport and go somewhere else!
I feel bad for any Lukas horse -- this guy has no compassion for any horse. Butcher of Horse racing -- that's his legacy to the sport.
Surprised he didn't enter Optimizer. It's been almost three weeks since the Belmont.