Mike Smith is eight away from career victory No. 5,000. “If they were
all as easy as this one, I’d have been there already,” the Hall of Fame
jockey said flashing his signature smile after guiding Mizdirection to a
2 ½ length triumph over four outclassed rivals in Saturday’s Clockers’
The win brought his figure to 4,991 (he would reach 4,992 with a come-from-behind win on Tigah in the eighth race).
A more daunting task awaits the 41-year-old New Mexico native
next Saturday, when he rides Uh Oh Bango in the Grade I, $750,000 Santa
Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino at 1 ¼
Among his potential rivals is Game On Dude, last year’s Big ‘Cap
winner and this year’s pre-race favorite, should he run. Smith already
owns an upset over the Bob Baffert-trainee, posting a 1 ½-length victory
aboard Drosselmeyer in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last Nov. 5.
“He’s certainly a stayer,” Smith said of Uh Oh Bango, a
5-year-old Top Hit horse, who was bred in Arizona by his owners, Triple
AAA Ranch. “He’s the kind of horse that can get the distance and he’s
doing really well.”
Uh Oh Bango won the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes at 1 1/16 miles
on Jan. 7, then finished a game second to 3-10 favorite Game On Dude in
the San Antonio Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 5.
“His last race was good,” Smith allowed. “Game On Dude ran
terrific that day. If we get lucky and get a little pace up front, who
knows what can happen? If Ultimate Eagle is in there with Game On Dude,
there should be plenty of pace. We just got to hope that we can run ‘em
Don’t put it past him. Smith has won with bigger longshots. Giacomo, at 50-1 in the 2005 Kentucky Derby, comes readily to mind.
Uh Oh Bango worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Sunday in 1:02.40.
Probable for the Big ‘Cap: Boxeur des Rues, Mario Gutierrez,
112; Game On Dude, Chantal Sutherland, 123; Gladding, Joel Rosario, 116;
Fiddlers Afleet, no rider, 110; Holladay Road, no rider, 114; Prayer
for Relief, no rider, 117; Ron the Greek, Jose Lezcano, 116; Setsuko,
Victor Espinoza, 116; Thirtyfirststreet, Eswan Flores, 114; Twice the
Appeal, Christian Santiago Reyes, 114; Uh Oh Bango, Mike Smith, 117; and
Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza, 120.
In other Big ‘Cap news:
Kiaran McLaughlin said by phone Sunday morning he would decide
tomorrow whether Hawthorne Gold Cup winner Redding Colliery would ship
from the East Coast for the race.
Two-time Santa Anita Handicap winner Lava Man will escort Robert
B. Lewis Stakes winner I’ll Have Another for a six furlong workout
between races on Saturday. I’ll Have Another is pointing to the Grade I,
$750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
Doug O’Neill, who trained Lava Man and who conditions I’ll Have
Another for owner J. Paul Reddam, said Sunday that in addition to Boxeur
des Rues, he plans to run California-bred Lone Star Derby winner
Thirtyfirststreet in the Big ‘Cap.