07/01/2013 3:51PM

Smiling Tiger retired, to stand in California

Benoit & Associates
Multiple Grade 1 winner Smiling Tiger has been retired and will enter stud in California.

Multiple Grade 1 winner Smiling Tiger has been retired from racing, and will stand at Premier Equine Center in Oakdale, Calif., in 2014 for an advertised fee of $5,000.

The 6-year-old son of Hold That Tiger had not raced since his victory in the Grade 3 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes Dec. 2 at Hollywood Park. He was sidelined with a foot bruise in January, but had recently returned to training, registering two workouts in June at Pleasanton.

“He had a little bit of heat in his knee,” said bloodstock agent Mersad Metanovic, who will handle the stallion’s bookings. “There’s nothing there. There’s no chip or anything but with him being at the age that he is, no one wants to take any calculated risks, and that’s what it really came down to. It came down to ‘What does he owe anybody?’ Absolutely nothing.”

One of the nation’s leading sprinters, Smiling Tiger won seven graded stakes races over four seasons of racing, highlighted by Grade 1 scores in the Bing Crosby Stakes, Triple Bend Handicap, and Ancient Title Stakes. Eighteen of his 23 career starts were wins or in-the-money efforts in stakes competition. He finished third in both the 2010 and the 2012 editions of the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

“He’s a very exciting prospect for us, because we think the world of him,” Metanovic said. “He was a very healthy horse all the way through. He has the heart of a champion and danced pretty much every dance against all the best sprinters in the country.”

In total, Smiling Tiger won nine of his 23 races for earnings of $1,480,704. He was campaigned during his racing career by owners Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz and was trained by Jeff Bonde.

Metanovic said that the horse’s majority owner, Lebherz, had recently purchased the Premier Equine Center property and that it could be re-named under the new ownership.

Bred in Kentucky by Dr. Rodney Orr, Smiling Tiger is out of stakes-winning Cahill Road mare Shandra Smiles, who is the dam of four winners from six foals to race. He was a $40,000 purchase out of the 2008 Washington Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association summer yearling auction, after failing to meet his reserve at the same year’s Keeneland January horses of all ages sale, with a final bid of $32,000.

“We’re taking all comers at this point,” Metanovic said. “We’re evaluating anything anybody sends us. We’ve had really good interest early on, which is really fascinating.”