09/15/2011 2:22PM

Parx Racing: Smart Bid brings plenty of class, consistency to PTHA President's Cup

Tom Keyser
Smart Bid has only won one race in 2011, but he has earned more than $580,000 in seven starts this year for owner Augustin Stable.

The purses for the 12-race Saturday card at Parx Racing are so outrageous that perhaps only the $250,000 being offered for the feature race, the President’s Cup, seems to be in line.

It’s Pennsylvania Owners’ Appreciation Day at the suburban Philadelphia racino, with purses purposely inflated so as to reward horse owners loyal to the local program. The first race on the card is a $5,000 claiming race with a $40,000 purse – and it only gets more obscene from there, with a $90,000 maiden race and a $94,000 allowance on tap later.

Ultimately, they’ll run the President’s Cup, a 1 1/8-mile turf race that drew 10 older horses, with Smart Bid the likely favorite. Owned by the Augustin Stable and based at the nearby Fair Hill training center with Graham Motion, Smart Bid has won just once in seven starts this year but still has knocked out more than $580,000 by keeping very classy company and earning a check every time.

“He’s just been very consistent all year,” Motion said.

Smart Bid, with Edgar Prado to ride, has been pegged as a 5-2 morning-line choice in the President’s Cup, which is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

Several of his opponents have shown enough on occasion that an upset isn’t out of the realm. One of those top challengers is the defending champion, Violon Sacre, a 6-year-old with victories in half of his 20 starts and nearly $500,000 in earnings.

After winning the President’s Cup last year, Violon Sacre captured the Grade 3 Knickerbocker at Belmont Park in his next start. He then shipped to Southern California and was soundly defeated twice before being laid up with a hairline fracture to a cannon bone, according to trainer Patrick Biancone.

The horse returned from a seven-month layoff by finishing sixth in his only subsequent race, the July 31 Oceanport at Monmouth Park.

“It was a good comeback race the other day,” Biancone said. “He had the injury, but has come back very well. I like the way he has trained into this race. Hopefully, he will show up – he should show up. He got a little tired the other day, and I think he will do better.”

Ryan Curatolo has the mount on Violon Sacre, who breaks from post 5.

Another logical contender is Citrus Kid (Jose Espinoza, post 2), winner of an April turf allowance at Keeneland by the narrowest of margins in his most recent appearance.

Still other possibilities include Stormy Lord, a speedy Canadian-bred with two Woodbine stakes wins this year; and Bim Bam, exiting the Grade 1 Sword Dancer for trainer Ron Moquett.

Rounding out the cast are Lubash, Cat Park, Feels All Right, Afleet Again, and The Cognac Kid.

Preference on the Saturday undercard has been given to horses with the most starts at Parx this year, a restriction that had to be exercised in a number of races as evidenced by the large fields.

First post for the 12-race Saturday program is 12:25 p.m. Eastern, with the President’s Cup (race 11) going at 5:01.