09/04/2010 11:51AM

Comedero stretches out in Smarty Jones


Just about everything connected with Comedero indicates that the 3-year-old colt is strictly a sprinter.

He’s 8 for 10 lifetime, including seven stakes victories, but in his lone try beyond seven furlongs, Comedero faded to 11th, beaten 23 lengths, last fall in an experiment going one mile at Remington Park.

Pedigree-wise, Comedero is cut out to be a pure sprinter. His dam, Pawnee Path, was 7 for 15 in her career – all dirt sprints. His sire, Posse, won five stakes in his two-year racing career, all at distances between 5 1/2 and seven furlongs.

Yet trainer Mike Stidham is confident enough in Comerdero’s ability to handle two turns and a mile and 70 yards to send him out in Monday’s inaugural running of the $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx Racing, facing a group of seven other 3-year-olds that includes Ohio Derby winner Pleasant Prince and the Todd Pletcher-trained Colizeo, winner of the Grade 3 Northern Dancer at Churchill Downs in June.

The Smarty Jones (race 11), a local prep for the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 25, tops a holiday card at the former Philadelphia Park that includes the track’s premier turf race for males, the $250,000 Turf Monster Handicap at five furlongs.

Stidham is hopeful different tactics will enable Comedero to do better in the Smarty Jones than he did in the $200,000 Springboard Mile at Remington, a race in which he was placed in the middle of the pack and parked wide for the first six furlongs.

“We are hoping that the horse has matured during his 3-year-old year,” Stidham said. “We will have instructions for him to be ridden a little different then he was that time going long. We are hoping with the maturity that he can stretch his speed out and relax enough to hang in there going the mile and 70 around two turns.”

Comedero has done well racing around two turns at Charles Town’s bullring, winning the Blue and Gold and the Red Legend, both at seven furlongs, with Beyer Speed Figures of 100 and 98.

“He did win twice around two turns at Charles Town, but it is a little different configuration there,” Stidham said. “It will be a little different, but we thought he handled that very well and we are hoping that he can do the same thing at Philly.”

DRF’s Formulator indicates that stretching out horses is not one of Stidham’s strengths. He is 3 for 23 going from sprints to routes with horses making their second start off a layoff and 0 for 5 with horses stretching out in non-graded stakes while returning to the races in less than 30 days.

Pleasant Prince is the logical favorite, based on his last-out victory in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby and his nose loss to Ice Box in the Grade 1 Florida Derby last March. Alex Solis, who rode Pleasant Prince for the first time in the Ohio Derby, will come in from California to retain the mount.

Colizeo ran the best race of his career when he wired the 1 1/16-mile Northern Dancer, earning a 96 Beyer, in his stakes debut. He subsequently finished third after a troubled trip in the Barbaro at Delaware Park.

In a limited sampling, Pletcher is 0 for 4 running horses in dirt stakes at the Bensalem, Pa., track the past five years.

The field also includes Nacho Friend, a distant third in the West Virginia Derby; the Steve Asmussen-trained Thiskyhasnolimit, runner-up in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby two starts ago; and Peppi Knows, who has recorded three of his four lifetime victories sprinting.

Turf Monster: Chamberlain Bridge targets repeat

Defending champion Chamberlain Bridge heads a full field of 12 older grass sprinters in the Turf Monster Handicap.

Now 6, Chamberlain Bridge rallied from seventh to win this race last year, earning a 102 Beyer. He owns seven turf sprint stakes victories over the past two seasons, including back-to-back scores in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Penn National and the Arlington Sprint Handicap in his two most recent starts.

His competition includes the rejuvenated 7-year-old Stradivinsky, who in his first start off a $50,000 claim by trainer Rick Dutrow won the Grade 3 Jaipur at Belmont Park in mid-July, and California shipper My Summer Slew, who missed by a nose to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion California Flag in last month’s Green Flash at Del Mar.

Bogue Chitto and Yield Bogey are a pair of intriguing longshots. Bogue Chitto ships in from Woodbine, where he was good enough to finish second in the Grade 2 Nearctic last October. Yield Bogey, who would benefit from a swift, contested pace, was just 1 1/4 lengths behind Stradivinsky as the runner-up in the Jaipur.