02/22/2011 4:49PM

Smiling Tiger sets his sights on Met Mile

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Smiling Tiger wins the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap for sprinters by a nose Saturday at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Trainer Jeff Bonde’s stakes winners got away with the bare minimum over the Presidents Day weekend.

Smiling Tiger won the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap for sprinters by a nose Saturday. On Monday, Cambina rallied from last to win the Grade 3 La Habra Stakes by a nose on the hillside turf course. In between, the stable’s Sway Away ran a game second to The Factor in Sunday’s San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Cambina led for the final stride, just catching Quiet Oasis.

“That’ll test your mettle, that’s for sure,” Bonde said of Monday’s finish. “Thank God I took my blood pressure medicine all week.”

While Cambina will stay in California for two-turn turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies in coming months, Smiling Tiger will have a national campaign this spring.

With the intent of developing the five-time stakes winner into a more attractive stallion prospect, Bonde is working toward the goal of starting the 4-year-old in the $500,000 Metropolitan Mile Handicap at Belmont Park on May 30.

Earlier this year, Bonde considered Smiling Tiger a candidate for the $2 million Golden Shaheen for sprinters in Dubai on March 26, but after his win in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap last weekend, Bonde said Dubai is out.

“My owners were very interested [in Dubai], but I feel he’s done enough that he has sire potential,” Bonde said. “The Met Mile has always been a stallion-producing race.”

Owned by Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz, Smiling Tiger has won 6 of 13 starts $875,864. In the seven-furlong San Carlos, Smiling Tiger closed from the back of a field after a poor start to catch Captain Cherokee.

Bonde said that Smiling Tiger will have a prep race in the $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap over six furlongs at Oaklawn Park on April 14 or the $300,000 Churchill Downs Handicap over seven furlongs on May 7. In the short-term, Smiling Tiger will earn a brief vacation after making three starts in the first two months of the Santa Anita meeting.

“He needs a break,” Bonde said. “I’ve run him hard here.”

Bloemer Girl retired due to tendon injury

Bloemer Girl was retired on Monday morning, hours before a scheduled start in the La Habra Stakes, according to trainer Dan Hendricks.

Bloemer Girl won the Sweet Life Stakes in her Southern California debut and won 2 of 3 starts and $89,658. A California-bred by Bertrando, Bloemer Girl was retired because of a tendon injury and may be bred to Pleasantly Perfect, according to breeder Rick Arthur, who also is the California Horse Racing Board’s equine medical director.

Bloemer Girl raced for Arthur’s adult children, Andrew and Christa.