Grade 3 winner Classic Rock, the latest success story for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and groundbreaking trainer Kathy Ritvo, will put his three-race win streak on the line in Saturday’s $250,000 Smile Sprint (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The six-furlong Smile Sprint for 3-year-olds and up is one of five stakes, two graded, worth $725,000 in purses on a 14-race Summit of Speed program that also includes the $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2), a designated ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs.
Ritvo became the first female trainer to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) with Reeves’ Mucho Macho Man in 2013. The towering son of Macho Uno finished in the money in 20 of his 25 career starts with nine wins, seven of them in stakes, and more than $5.6 million in purse earnings from 2010-14.
“Kathy and I now are probably close to going on 10 years [together]. It’s a mutual love affair, she puts up with me and I put up with her,” Dean Reeves said. “She does a great job. She’s very consistent [in her] quality of training. These horses look spectacular. Whether they can run or not, they’re going to look good, they’re going to be well-trained.
“We had some early success, we took a dip for a little while and I think we just didn’t get the right horses,” he added. “I think now, the crop that we have we’re excited about and Classic Rock – he’s our headliner.”
Classic Rock, a 4-year-old son of Maclean’s Music, was purchased by Reeves for $180,000 as a yearling in September 2015, making his debut the following fall at Saratoga. He broke his maiden in December 2016 at Gulfstream, the first of three straight wins capped by the Roar Stakes in April 2017.
Following a pair of graded-stakes tries, Classic Rock went unraced for nearly five months after finishing fifth in the Carry Back (G3) on last year’s Summit of Speed program. He returned to beat older horses Dec. 20 at Gulfstream. From there he captured the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) March 3 and, most recently, the Jeblar Stakes May 6.
“It’s a horse we bought as a yearling and I think for them to be successful it makes you feel good about what you’ve done at the sales,” Reeves said. “He started out real well. We had a couple of setbacks, he came back and won some races, and we gave him some time off. Kathy’s just done a great job getting him back, and now he’s really coming into his own.”
Classic Rock will break from Post 2 in a field of eight for the Smile Sprint with his regular pilot - record-setting Championship Meet-leading rider Luis Saez – in the irons at topweight of 123 pounds.
Trying six furlongs for the third time in his 11th career start, Classic Rock has won six of his seven races at Gulfstream Park. His work tab is riddled with bullets, including a half-mile breeze in 45.77 seconds June 23 at Gulfstream, the fastest of 95 horses.
“He’s been very successful here at Gulfstream Park, he loves the track and it’s always an advantage whenever you can just walk out of your stall to the racetrack. That’s been really helpful,” Reeves said. “This is what we’ve aimed for, for a good long time.
“He’s working extremely well. He’s probably the best work horse I have ever been around and that includes Mucho Macho Man, who was pretty solid in his works,” he added. “This horse he just does consistent works time in and time out. He’s training well, I think we’re ready to go.”