07/02/2011 7:57PM

Hollywood Park: Smiling Tiger gets front-running win in Triple Bend Handicap

Benoit & Associates
Smiling Tiger, ridden by Joel Rosario, made all the pace on his way to victory in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The winning move in Saturday’s $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park was made in the first furlong. Jockey Joel Rosario put Smiling Tiger on the lead.

From there, Smiling Tiger set a modest pace for a Grade 1 race, never faced a serious challenge, and won the seventh stakes of his career by a convincing 3 1/4 lengths.

The win established Smiling Tiger as California’s leading sprinter as the division heads toward Del Mar later this month.

Smiling Tiger ($5.40) ran seven furlongs in 1:21.22, easily beating Camp Victory, who was promoted from second to first in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap on May 30. Smiling Tiger set fractions of 22.29 and 44.95 seconds and led by at least a length after the first 100 yards
Amazombie, who finished first in the Los Angeles Handicap but was demoted to third for causing interference in the stretch, finished third in the Triple Bend, followed by Uh Oh Bango, Color of Courage, Bench Points, M One Rifle, and El Martillo.

Smiling Tiger had stalked the pace in his previous starts this year, but Rosario said he did not hestitate to guide the 4-year-old to the lead when the opportunity developed in the Triple Bend.

“They gave it to me,” he said. “He broke good.”

Smiling Tiger won his third stakes of 2011 in the Triple Bend, preceded by wins in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita in February and the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April. A colt by Hold That Tiger, Smiling Tiger was a troubled sixth in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 7.

Owned by Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz and trained by Jeff Bonde, Smiling Tiger has won three Grade 1 races. Last year, he won the Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar and the Ancient Title Stakes at Hollywood Park. Smiling Tiger has won 8 of 16 starts and $1,149,353.