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Smiling Tiger Looms Large in Palos Verdes

Smiling Tiger, who came from oblivion last season to win a pair of grade I races and become a finalist as the nation's top sprinter, kicks off his 4-year-old campaign in the $150,000 Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 22 at Santa Anita.

The fleet-footed son of Hold That Tiger is a standout among the seven entrants for the Palos Verdes, the seventh race on the program. The six-furlong event has a probable post of 3:36 p.m. PST.

Trained by Jeff Bonde for Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz, Smiling Tiger showed his prowess on Santa Anita's new dirt track when he came up a nose short to Twirling Candy in the torrid seven-furlong Malibu Stakes (gr. I) on opening day Dec. 26. That race, in which Smiling Tiger led through the homestretch until the wire, produced a track-record time of 1:19.70, erasing a 30-year-old mark held by Spectacular Bid.

Before that, the chestnut colt turned in a solid third despite bobbling at the start, finishing 1 3/4 lengths behind Eclipse Award winner Big Drama in the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov. 6. Smiling Tiger previously had taken Oak Tree’s Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I) over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track and Del Mar’s Bing Crosby (gr. I) on Polytrack during a 2010 campaign that ended with a 3-1-3 mark in seven starts and earnings of $651,464

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