(Photo: Get Smokin (on rail) finished second to Stitched in the Grade 2 Wise Dan at Ellis Park. Coady Photography)
By Tim Wilkin, for Kentucky Downs
There is no need to study the past performances of the $1.7 million Turf Cup (G2) when it comes to Get Smokin. When the gates open for Saturday’s marquee race at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs, there is only one place where Get Smokin will be – or at least where his Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse expects the 6-year-old gelding to be.
That is right on the lead. The son of Distorted Humor is a free-wheeling thoroughbred that runs as fast as he can for as far as he can. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Get Smokin, owned by Ironhorse Racing Stable, BlackRidge Stables T-N-T Equine Holdings and Saratoga Seven Racing Partners, has 26 career starts on his resume, all of them on the grass. He has five wins, seven seconds and two thirds.
This will be the first time that Casse will try him at a mile and a half, and he’s crossing his fingers.
“He is extremely good right now,” Casse said by phone. “He is one of those horses that likes to be on the lead and the farther you go, the easier it is to be on the lead. This is a bit of an experiment and we’ll see how it goes.”
When last seen, Get Smokin was doing his thing in Ellis Park’s 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Downs Preview Cup. He led into the stretch before giving way in the final sixteenth and settling for fourth place. His morning line for the Turf Cup is 15-1 and he will be ridden by Fernando De La Cruz, who went into Wednesday’s card at Horseshoe Indianapolis as the meet’s second-leading rider with 66 wins.
In two prior starts to the Preview Cup – both at 1 1/16-miles – Get Smokin again set the pace but was second in the Wise Dan (G2) at Ellis Park and the Arlington (G3) at Churchill Downs. He has just one win this year, that being an allowance at Gulfstream on March 2.
Another horse from the Casse barn at Kentucky Downs Saturday is 7-year-old gelding Olympic Runner, who is 15-1 on the $1 million Ainsworth Turf Sprint (G2) morning line.
Owned by Gary Barber, Olympic Runner has a win and two seconds in four starts this year. The son of Gio Ponti has run on firm turf 15 times in his career and has three wins, five seconds and a third. This will be his first start at Kentucky Downs.
In his last start, he rallied to win an allowance at Colonial Downs on Aug. 5. Casse shortened him up to 5 1/2 furlongs in that race; Saturday’s Turf Sprint is for 3-year-olds and up and will be contested at six furlongs.
“This is a good race, a very good race,” Casse said. “I think he is capable if he comes with his ‘A’ game.”
Olympic Runner will be ridden by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.
Casse will also saddle Our Flash Drive in the $1 million AGS Ladies Turf Sprint (G2) for fillies and mares aged 3 and up. The 5-year-old mare will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez; she is owned by Live Oak Stud.
In her last start, Our Flash Drive stumbled at the break of the 5 ½-furlong Caress Stakes (G3) at Saratoga; this race is 6 1/2-furlongs.
“Her last race was much better than it looked,” Casse said. “We were always concerned going in that the 5 1/2 was going to be a little short for her. And, then, of course, she broke bad and gave them three or four lengths at the beginning and she lost all chance. I was disappointed in the outcome, but I wasn’t disappointed in her.”
One other horse from Casse’s barn – 3-year-old Determinedly – is third on the also eligible list for the $1 million The Exacta Systems Franklin-Simpson Stakes (G2). He would need three defections to get into the race.