12/07/2012 4:45PM

Hollywood Park: Fast Bullet 'wastes' huge effort in non-stakes

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Benoit & Associates
Fast Bullet received a 109 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in an optional claiming race Thursday.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Fast Bullet was scratched from the Vernon Underwood Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park last Sunday because trainer Bob Baffert was reluctant to run the colt on a deep and drying racetrack.

The consolation race was an optional claimer on Thursday, and Fast Bullet did not disappoint. Fast Bullet ($2.80) gave a stakes-caliber showing, winning the race over 6 1/2 furlongs by 7 1/4 lengths in 1:15.64. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 109.

“It was wasted on the allowance race,” Baffert said of the performance. “It’s a shame we had all that rain.”

The 4-year-old Fast Bullet won for the third time in his four-race career. Ridden by Martin Garcia, Fast Bullet set an early pace of 22.73 and 45.72 seconds, leading by at least a length through the first half-mile. In the final furlong, he extended his lead rapidly.

“He’s a very talented horse,” Baffert said.

The optional claimer was Fast Bullet’s first start since a sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 3, the colt’s first start of 2012. Fast Bullet was beaten 5 1/2 lengths by Trinniberg, racing as close as third in the opening quarter-mile of that race.

Fast Bullet’s next start is likely to be $150,000 Palos Verdes Stakes over six furlongs at Santa Anita on Jan.  19, although Baffert stopped short of committing the colt on Friday morning.

“He’ll be in a stakes,” Baffert said.

Dubai major target for Smiling Tiger

The Palos Verdes is already in the plans for Underwood winner Smiling Tiger.

The long-term goal for Smiling Tiger is more ambitious – the $2 million Golden Shaheen for sprinters in Dubai in March.

Owned by Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz and trained by Jeff Bonde, Smiling Tiger was third in the BC  Sprint last month, and won his eighth career stakes in the Grade 3 Underwood. The Underwood ended a six-race losing streak for Smiling Tiger, who underwent a minor surgery during the summer to improve his breathing.

With only two starts since the summer, and one race planned for the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, Bonde is hopeful that Smiling Tiger will be sharp in early spring for an international trip.

“He’s a fresh horse,” Bonde said. “We’re hoping to take the horse to Dubai.”

Bonde said that Smiling Tiger underwent a breathing operation as a 2-year-old, in 2009. A winner of 9 of 23 starts and $1,480,704, Smiling Tiger has won three Grade 1 races – the Bing Crosby at Del Mar and Ancient Title Stakes at Hollywood Park in 2010, and the 2011 Triple Bend at Hollywood Park.

“He’s a special horse and he’s been in a lot of races,” Lebherz said. “He’s never had an orthopedic procedure.”