11/08/2014 7:30PM

Smith wins second stakes of meet aboard Awesome Return

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Benoit & Associates
Mike Smith collects his second stakes win in as many days aboard Awesome Return in the Let It Ride.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Two days, two stakes wins. Is Mike Smith having a good meet, or what?

 After capturing the feature on opening day Friday at Del Mar, Smith came back and took the $93,100 Let It Ride Stakes on Saturday with favored Awesome Return, who took advantage of a hot early pace and then came charging down the lane to post a 1 1/4-length victory.

Number Five, who was number 3 on the betting program, finished second, with Cabral another head back in third in the one-mile grass race for 3-year-olds.

 Awesome Return ($5.40) completed the mile on firm turf in 1:34.55.

His task was helped immensely by Final Step, who tried two turns for the first time and set a blazing pace that set it up for a late runner like Awesome Return. Final Step set fractions of 22.16 seconds, 45.07, and 1:10.23 for the first six furlongs before fading to last in the nine-horse field.

Joe Talamo rode Awesome Return in his first eight starts, including three wins, but he is on suspension this weekend.

“I might have cut him loose sooner than I should have because he was lagging back there, but in the end it didn’t matter,” Smith said.

 “You don’t see Mike Smith make too many mistakes in a stake,” said Mike Puype, who trains Awesome Return for the colt’s owner-breeder, Richard Kritzski.

Because Awesome Return, a son of Decarchy, is a California-bred, he was eligible to a purse supplement and took home total winnings of $60,660. He has now 4 of 9 starts. His three prior wins were all in Cal-bred races.

Awesome Return had not raced since July 19 here. Puype said he decided to give Awesome Return a vacation because of concern at the time over the condition of the turf course here, both in terms of injuries that occurred and Puype’s belief that the course profile was against a late runner like Awesome Return.

“The grass looks much better now. It has much more thatch to it,” Puype said.