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Smiling Tiger Holds On in Ancient Title

Smiling Tiger became the second 3-year-old in four years to win the $245,000 Ancient Title Stakes, holding off Supreme Summit to win the Grade I Saturday at Oak Tree/Hollywood Park.

Earlier in the afternoon, Liberian Freighter took advantage of a gorgeous trip to score the biggest surprise in the history of the $150,000 Oak Tree Mile, winning by a nose over Colgan’s Chip.

Joining Idiot Proof (2007), P.T.’s Grey Eagle (2004) and Groovy (1986) as sophomores who have had Ancient Title success, Smiling Tiger won for the second time in as many starts over the Hollywood Park Cushion Track.

A half-length winner against his own age group in the Lazaro Barrera Memorial on May 22, the Hold That Tiger colt out of the Cahill Road mare Shandra Smiles won his second Grade I in a little more than two months.

A gate-to-wire winner in the Bing Crosby Handicap on Aug. 1 at Del Mar, Smiling Tiger prevailed by a half-length Saturday after a pace pressing trip. The final time for the six furlongs was 1:09.37.

Owned by Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz and trained by Jeff Bonde, the 7-2 fourth choice in the field of seven returned $9.20, $5.20 and $3. The victory was the fifth in nine starts for the $40,000 yearling purchase. He has earned $519,864.

Russell Baze rode Smiling Tiger for the first time in 14 months and the world’s winningest jockey is now 3-for-4 on the Kentucky bred. The Grade I victory was the first for Baze since he won the King’s Bishop aboard Lost in the Fog at Saratoga on Aug. 27, 2005.

Supreme Summit, who rallied from last, paid $4.80 and $2.80. The show price on E Z’s Gentleman, the 2-1 favorite, was $2.60. He finished three-quarters of a length behind Supreme Summit and a nose in front of Cost of Freedom, who was trying to become the first horse to win the Ancient Title twice.

The Ancient Title was a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In’’ Challenge race. Indications are Smiling Tiger is headed for Kentucky and a start in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.

“This is a very nice colt,’’ said Baze. “He ran a gutty and determined race. I think he’s got big things in front of him.He’s a three-quarter mile kind of horse and we figured out a little bit more how to handle him in a race. I think we kind of ticked him off with the way we were handling him in his races.’’

In the Oak Tree Mile, which lost morning line favorite Sidney’s Candy – the 3-year-old Candy Ride colt was scratched Saturday morning due to his pending sale – Liberian Freighter, sat third behind a rapid pace and was up to earn the most significant win of his career.

The longest shot in the field of six at 22-1 – the next highest price was 8-1 – gave trainer Neil Drysdale his record sixth victory in the grassy Mile.

A 5-year-old Bertrando gelding out of the Slewpy mare Anachristina, Liberian Freighter became the first California bred to succeed in a race that was run for the 25th time Saturday.

Owned by the estate of breeder Ed Nahem, Drysdale’s wife Shawn Dugan and Charles Winner, Liberian Freighter won for the eighth time in 22 starts. The $90,000 payday increased his bankroll to $571,740.

Ridden by Martin Garcia, who earned his first Oak Tree Mile win, Liberian Freighter paid $46.40, $15.40 and $6.60. The final time was 1:33.24.

Colgan’s Chip, who dispatched of Tropic Storm after the duo had drawn well clear of the rest of the field through quick fractions (23.01, 45.78 and 1:09.78 for six furlongs), paid $8 and $5. Tropic Storm, who finished 2 ¼ lengths behind Colgan’s Chip, returned $3.80 to show.

Victor’s Cry, the 8-5 favorite who had won the Shoemaker Mile locally in May, finished fifth.

The Oak Tree Mile was a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In’’ Challenge race, but Drysdale indicated Liberian Freighter will remain at Hollywood Park. The immediate goal is the $100,000 California Cup Mile on Oct. 30.

“It set up well and he relaxed well,’’ said Drysdale after his first victory in the Mile since Aragorn in 2006. “It was set up with the two speed horses in front of him. He had a lovely trip and got a lovely ride. I’m delighted. My wife owns a piece of him, so I’m even happier.’’




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