08/21/2013 3:36PM

Louisiana Downs notes: String King a lucrative handful for Smith

Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography
String King has swept the state’s biggest races for Louisiana-breds on grass – ”The Louisiana Turf Triple.”

BOSSIER CITY, La. – Everything is going according to plan these days for Charlie Smith and his blue-collar runner String King. If you are the owner, breeder, and trainer of a horse who regularly takes down six-figure stakes events, that kind of order can be a wonderful thing.

String King’s latest triumph came in Saturday’s $100,000 Louisiana Cup Turf at Louisiana Downs in a front-running effort under the meeting’s leading rider, Richard Eramia. That win came five weeks after the 5-year-old Crowned King gelding captured the $100,000 Louisiana Legends Turf at Evangeline Downs and eight months after successfully defending his title in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf at Fair Grounds. In doing so, he swept the state’s biggest races for Louisiana-breds on grass – ”The Louisiana Turf Triple.” String King has quickly and very efficiently filled the void left by the retirement of four-time Louisiana horse of the year Star Guitar last summer. String King’s latest payday increased his earnings to almost $520,000.

“He has been a blessing, that’s for sure,” said Smith, who in addition to managing his small stable also runs an auto body shop in nearby Haughton, La. “All he does every time is run his eyeballs out.”

Smith says String King’s next start will be in the $100,000 Unbridled Stakes against open company on the Super Derby undercard Sept. 7. String King finished third in last year’s Unbridled following a second-place finish in the Louisiana Cup Turf three weeks before.

“I think he knew he had the Unbridled coming up in a few weeks and kind of shut down in the late going Saturday,” Smith joked, referring to String King’s shrinking two-length margin of victory. “He’s pretty smart like that.”

String King was his usual cantankerous self following his latest score as it took far longer to get him settled for the winner’s circle photo than it did for him to cover the 1 1/16 miles a few minutes earlier. His final clocking of 1:40.70 came within .53 of a second of the course record. The resulting 94 Beyer Speed Figure continued a remarkably narrow band of Beyers for String King. He has posted figures from 91 to 94 dating back to the 2012 Unbridled. The only exception was the 99 he earned in winning the Mr. Sulu Stakes at Fair Grounds last November.

“We had to circle him five times before we could get the picture,” said Smith. “That’s just normal for him. He’s just a high-strung kind of horse.”

“I thought it might be a little higher,” continued Smith when informed of String King’s latest Beyer. “I think he came home in about six seconds after the mile in one thirty-four and change. That’s racehorse time for sure.”

Venturing out into open competition is nothing new for Smith and String King. Delta Downs, the state’s fourth track, does not have a turf course, so while the rest of Louisiana’s best were congregating for that oval’s Premier Night in February, String King was in the middle of a continuing campaign at Fair Grounds that saw him finish second in the Grade 3 Colonel Bradley and third in the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz.

Supper to benefit fire victims

There will be a spaghetti supper on Friday evening beginning at 5:30 in the Red River Room on the first floor of Louisiana Downs to benefit victims of the recent tragic fire that killed 18 horses at the River Point Training Center, which is located next to Louisiana Downs. Live and silent auctions also will be held. Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door or may be purchased in advance in the Louisiana Downs racing office.

◗ This year’s Super Derby bowling tournament is slated for Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Holiday Lanes on Industrial Drive in Bossier City, La. The entry fee is $25 for individuals or $100 for a four-man team. The three-game, no-tap format will get under way at 6 p.m. Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association.