Windy Hill Farm’s Smarty Echo worked a half-mile in company Sunday morning in preparation for Saturday’s Grade III Lecomte Stakes, centerpiece event of Road to the Derby Kickoff Day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
“That work went really well for us,” said trainer Anne Smith, speaking
outside her barn later in the morning. “I don’t know if the clockers
caught them both or not, but I know what I got him in. He worked in
blinkers and that seemed to help him focus a little bit. I think now
that we’ll run him in blinkers in this race coming up. James Graham was aboard for the move today. The other horse broke on top but ‘Smarty’ caught up to him before the wire.
“The other horse is a little more mature than ‘Smarty’ is at this time,” said Smith, known locally for preparing Windy Hill’s Nates Mineshaft to win Fair Grounds’ Grade III Mineshaft and Grade II New Orleans handicaps two
years ago at the Crescent City oval. “’Smarty’ is still just a little
bit too playful. Athletically, he is very talented and now we’re trying
to get him to focus a little better to utilize that talent.”
Smarty’s Echo, a son of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones, has
only made four starts so far in his career and all were last year
during his juvenile campaign. He finished third in his career debut
over grass at Arlington Park, but then came back to break his maiden by a
head Sept. 6 over that Chicago oval’s Polytrack course. Moving on to
Keeneland – again on Polytrack for the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity on
Oct. 5, the Kentucky-bred chestnut finished second, beaten less than
three lengths despite being steadied early and then racing wide.
However, his next started in Santa Anita’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was a total disappointment where he was far back throughout before finishing 10th beaten 16 lengths.
“I don’t even like to talk about that race,” said Smith, who came up under two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Carl Nafzger. “It
was his first start on dirt and a whole bunch of other things went
wrong. The owners (Windy Hill’s father-son duo of Pete and Scott
Reiman) were very disappointed.
“Hopefully, we’ve put that race behind us now,” concluded Smith. “I
was really encouraged by the way things went this morning.”