10/09/2010 8:18PM

Smiling Tiger punches ticket to BC Sprint by taking Ancient Title

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BENOIT PHOTO
Smiling Tiger, under Russell Baze, scores his second graded stakes win over older horses in the Ancient Title.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Smiling Tiger is bound for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6 after a hard-fought win in Saturday’s $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Ridden by Russell Baze, Smiling Tiger ($9.20) won the Grade 1 Ancient Title by a half-length over a fast-closing Supreme Summit. E Z’s Gentlemen finished third. Dancing in Silks, the winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, could only finish sixth in the field of seven.

Smiling Tiger was timed in 1:09.37. Baze had Smiling Tiger in second for the first half-mile, stalking pacesetter Cost of Freedom through early fractions of 22.12 and 44.53 seconds. Smiling Tiger took the lead from Cost of Freedom in the stretch and was ridden to the finish to hold off Supreme Summit.

“I think we’re on our way” to the Breeders’ Cup,” co-owner Alan Klein said. “I knew he was this good. Russell gave him a great ride.”

 E Z’s Gentlemen, the 2-1 favorite, finished a nose in front of Cost of Freedom.

Smiling Tiger, the only 3-year-old in the Ancient Title, has won 5 of 9 starts and $519,064.

Trained by Jeff Bonde for Klein and Philip Lebherz, Smiling Tiger has won three sprint stakes this year. Earlier this year, he won the Grade 3 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes for 3-year-olds and the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes over six furlongs at Del Mar, his first start against older horses. He followed that race with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Pat O’Brien Stakes over seven furlongs on Aug. 28.

 

The Ancient Title Stakes was part of the Breeders’ Cup’s Win and You’re In program, offering an automatic berth to the BC Sprint, subject to the payment of entry fees.