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Smiling Tiger Eyes Met Mile

Smiling Tiger, who took Thursday’s Grade 3 Count Fleet Handicap at Oaklawn Park, is likely to train up to a start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on May 30, trainer Jeff Bonde said.


“That’s the target,” said Bonde. “It’s a major race that could help his value as a stallion.”


Owned by Lebherz Racing and Alan Klein, the 4-year-old son of Hold That Tiger has five graded stakes victories to his credit and has won two straight, having also taken the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita on February 19. As a 3-year-old, Smiling Tiger more than held his own against older horses, winning the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar and Grade 1 Ancient Title at Hollywood Park and finishing third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs.


Earlier in his career, Smiling Tiger would set or race just off the pace, but in his last two starts has closed strongly in the stretch, a trait Bonde instilled in the colt in the morning.


“He has really learned to relax, and it’s enhanced his game,” said Bonde. “He’s starting to learn his lessons.”


Bonde believes the new running style could help Smiling Tiger, who has never raced beyond seven furlongs, negotiate the Metropolitan’s one-mile distance.


“I believe the distance is within his grasp, based on the way he ran yesterday,” said Bonde.



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