Updated on 09/16/2011 7:21AM

Sir Bear out for Hawthorne gold


MIAMI - has taken his owner-breeders, Al and Barbara Smollin, to racetracks all over the United states during a career that has seen him win three Grade 1 races and earn just under $2.5 million. But the Smollins and their star have yet to visit Chicago, a situation that will be rectified next Saturday, when Sir Bear should be among the favorites in the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup.

Trainer Ralph Ziadie and the Smollins had agonized for weeks over where and when Sir Bear would make his next start. The choices were the Hawthorne Gold Cup, the $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap, on May 27, or the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap on June 1.

"Ultimately the choice came down to Chicago or Boston," Al Smollin explained. "And in the end we decided the race at Hawthorne would be easier. We thought the better horses would stay on the East Coast in Boston."

Sure enough, that appears to be the case, as the Grade 2 Massachusetts Handicap figures to lure defending champ Include, Donn Handicap winner Mongoose, Eclipse Award winner Macho Uno, and New York handicap star Evening Attire.

Sir Bear finished second behind Include in the 2001 Mass. Cap.

"We'd really love to go back to Boston," said Smollin. "Barbara and I both had a great time there last year. But we've really got to go where we think it suits Sir Bear best, and in this case that would appear to be Hawthorne. The race in Chicago is at a mile and one quarter, and I know my horse can go the distance. Besides, we've never been to Illinois, and we'd like to give Midwesterners a chance to see Sir Bear."

The ageless Sir Bear, now 9, has been a joy to watch wherever he has gone over the years. This season he has already won Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Skip Away Handicap, defeating Red Bullet in the process, and finished third in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap. A win in the Hawthorne Gold Cup would put him within $200,000 of passing $3 million in career earnings.

Sir Bear will work at Calder on Monday and then ship to Chicago the following day. Smollin said he is trying to get Eibar Coa, who won the 2001 Gulfstream Park Handicap aboard Sir Bear, to ride the horse in the Hawthorne Gold Cup. Coa left Calder earlier this week for New Jersey, where he will spend the summer defending his Monmouth Park riding title.

Campbell scores as pinch-hitter

When trainer Reed Combest had trouble finding a jockey willing to ride his Running the Rail in last Monday's second race, he didn't have to search very far to get a volunteer to climb aboard the fast but quirky 3-year-old. He just had to look down the shed row and ask his exercise rider David Campbell, who was all too glad to accept the mount.

Campbell guided Running the Rail to a front-running victory in the five-furlong dash, doing a good job keeping the somewhat-hard-to-manage colt from bearing out around the turn before holding him together to earn his diploma despite shortening stride inside the eighth pole.

"David gets on the horse in the morning and knows his quirks really well," said Combest's son Phil, who owns Running the Rails. "He handled him as well as any other rider could have, especially on the turn where the horse has a habit of not changing leads and getting out.

"David hasn't ridden a race in some time, and this has to be his first victory in quite a long while. He was thrilled and we were thrilled for him."