Updated on 09/17/2011 11:28AM

Something Smith goes to front, stays there

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EQUI-PHOTO
Something Smith, with E. L. King riding, runs to victory in the $45,000 Friendly Lover Handicap at Monmouth Park.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - The brilliantly fast Something Smith helped launch the first New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival on Saturday at Monmouth Park with a front-running victory in the Friendly Lover, one of three stakes on the card.

The festival offered 11 races for New Jersey-breds as a showcase of the state's breeding industry. Such days have worked well in other states, and New Jersey hopes to build the festival to a similar level.

"For its initial year, it's a success," said Bob Kulina, Monmouth's vice president and general manager. "It's a good thing to do. We've been a proponent of this for a long time. We'll build on it for next year."

Staged on a perfect late-summer afternoon, the festival offered the 9,161 fans in attendance a parade of breeds, equine-related information booths, and a race among mascots from local sports teams. More important, it presented three $45,000 stakes: the Friendly Lover at six furlongs, and a pair of contests at one mile and 70 yards - the Slady Castle and the William A. Purdey for fillies and mares.

Something Smith, a 3-year-old, posted his third win in his last four outings as he dictated the pace to take the Friendly Lover in 1:08.82.

A homebred for the father-son team of owner Gerald and trainer Kevin Sleeter, Something Smith ($11.40) rolled to a 2 1/4-length win over Second Collection, with Gators N Bears, the 1-2 favorite, third.

Jockey Eddie King was confident throughout.

"Going down the backstretch, he was nice and relaxed," King said. "Every time they came to him, he just got a little stronger. I yelled to him turning for home and he just took off."

Winning New Jersey-bred stakes is a common occurrence for the Sleeters, who own a farm in Clementon and annually rank among the top breeders in the state.

Something Smith was one of four winners on the card sired by the Sleeters' late stallion, Northern Idol.

* Powers Prospect ($16.20) pulled away to a 5 1/4-length win in the Purdey. She stopped the clock in 1:41.78.

* Vow ($28.20) made a strong inside move turning for home to capture the Slady Castle for leading owner Michael Gill.