Opening weekend at Aqueduct brings with it the final graded
turf event for males in New York
this year, the 51st running of the Grade 2, $150,000, 1 3/8-mile Red
Smith Handicap, which has drawn a competitive field of nine.
Trainer Christophe Clement has entered a pair of runners
both exiting good efforts in Grade 1 company – Grassy, a late-running third in
the 1 ½-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park on October 2,
and Center Divider, most recently fourth in the Jamaica Handicap at Belmont the
“Grassy is doing great,” Clement reported. “He ran a very
nice race finishing third in the Turf Classic and came out of it in good order.
We are supposed to get some rain tomorrow and he should enjoy the softer turf.”
A 4-year-old son of El Prado owned by Claiborne Farm and
Adele Dilschneider, Grassy seeks his first stakes win in the Red Smith, with
the Turf Classic – won by Breeders’ Cup Turf-bound stablemate Winchester – his
career-best stakes effort to date. Grassy was seventh in the Grade 1 Sword
Dancer on August 14 at Saratoga, a race which he
entered off a comfortable victory in an optional claimer on July 2 at Belmont.
Clement has also entered the lightly-raced 3-year-old Center
Divider, who broke his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs in February and won a
Keeneland turf allowance on April 18, his most recent start prior to the Jamaica.
Grassy will carry 117 pounds including Joe Bravo from post
position 6, while Jose Lezcano has been named to ride Center Divider, 113 pounds,
from post 3.
Strike a Deal seeks his second Red Smith victory, having
scored a seven-length win in the 2008 edition of the race. The 6-year-old son
of Smart Strike has not found the winner’s circle since taking the Grade 2
Dixie at Pimlico on May 15 and exits a pair of disappointing efforts in New York, an eighth in
the Turf Classic and a fourth in the Grade 2 Bowling Green on September 11.
Strike a Deal gets the services of Hall of Fame jockey Edgar
Prado from post 8.
Making his first start for new trainer Todd Pletcher is the
Brazilian-bred Group 1 winner Jeune-Turc. Previously trained by Paulo Lobo, the
6-year-old has made two starts in the United
States, finishing eighth in the Grade 1 United Nations at
Monmouth on July 3 and then fifth in the Bowling
“We’ve had him since September 15 and he came to us from
Paulo in exceptional condition,” said Jonathan Thomas “He acts like a classy
horse and we’re happy to have to him.”
David Cohen will ride from post 4.
Also returning from the Bowling Green is the Roger Attfield-trained
Simmard, third in that race and most recently seventh in the Grade 1 Canadian
International at Woodbine on October 16.
The 7-year-old multiple Grade 1 winner Presious Passion,
exiting a ninth-place effort in the Grade 3 Sycamore at Keeneland on October
21, drew the rail as the 122-pound high weight in the Red Smith. The gelding
boasts a lifetime record of 14-7-2 from 48 starts and was a competitor in both
the 2007 and 2008 runnings of the Red Smith, finishing fifth and sixth,
Whatsthescript, a Grade 2 winner in California
who stood the first part of the year at stud, scored his first victory since
being returned to racing when he prevailed by a neck in the 1 1/16-mile Keep
the Promise at Belmont
on September 19. This summer, the 6-year-old son of Royal Anthem was fourth in
the Fourstardave and sixth in the Bernard Baruch, both Grade 2 races at Saratoga.
Rescue Squad and Bold Hawk enter the Red Smith off Keeneland
allowances, with Rescue Squad finishing third in an October 10 contest and Bold
Hawk running fourth in a race on October 13, his first start in nearly three
The field for the Grade 2, $150,000 Red Smith