Updated on 09/16/2011 8:55AM

Star Smasher wins City of Sunland Park Handicap


Sunland Park, NM - Three-year-old Star Smasher, owned by the local group known as 'The Crew of Brew', turned the tables on his four-year-old rival Ciento by winning Thursday's $75,000-added City of Sunland Park Handicap. In their first meeting on December 8 in the Johnie Jamison Handicap Ciento had been the impressive winner and this race sets the scene for a meet-long rivalry and not only between horses. Robert Cappellucci is the trainer of Star Smasher while his son, Dick, trains Ciento.

Star Smasher was making just his second start for the elder Cappellucci, who took over those duties when his long-time friend and peer Jamison died late last summer. In the race named after Jamison, Star Smasher made a bid for the lead in midstretch but weakened in the final furlong of that six and one-half furlong race and appeared to need the out. This time, going a mile and one-sixteenth, Star Smasher took over four wide after a half, opened a clear lead on the far turn and had plenty left to win by almost two lengths under a confident ride by Miguel Fuentes. Star Smasher covered the distance in 1:44.16 and returned $7.20.

Asked whether he felt confident before the race that his horse was ready to win at two turns after coming up a bit short sprinting, Robert Cappellucci responded candidly. "Not really," he said. "When he went to the front so easy on the far turn I was sure hoping Fuentes was saving something for the stretch." Cappellucci defered any credit for the win to Jamison, saying "I just inherited a ready-made horse. Johnie Jamison was my best friend and it is an honor to be chosen to train him." The Cappellucci's rivalry is a friendly one, with father and son stabled in the same barn. The two horses are scheduled to meet again February 2 in the $125,000-added New Mexico State University Stakes at the same distance.