SMILE SPRINT HANDICAP | PURSE: $400,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 6 FURLONGS
Brittlyn Stable's Gantry struck the front in midstretch and drew off to a convincing five-length victory in Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder. A three-time stakes hero during the 2011-12 Fair Grounds' meet, the five-year-old gelding notched his first graded win while scoring as the 9-5 favorite on the Summit of Speed program.
Regular jockey Richard Eramia was up on the Ron Faucheux-trained son of Pulpit.
Gantry broke from the far outside among eight rivals and tracked the pace down the backstretch as Artefacto whipped through opening fractions of :21 2/5 and :44 2/5 on a one-length lead. The dark bay advanced to challenge leaving the far turn and stuck his head in front while passing the eighth pole in :57. Gantry smartly rolled to the finish line while under no urging from his rider, completing six furlongs in 1:10.52.
His final time was the fastest of the four six-furlong graded stakes Saturday, five-hundredths of a second better than the winning time in the Grade 2 Carry Back (1:10.57) two races earlier. The Smile Sprint lost a little luster when Trinniberg scratched out in favor of the Carry Back, but the three-year-old was upset by Fort Loudon at 1-5 odds and would have been up against it versus Gantry, who won with seemingly plenty in reserve.
It was a three-horse photo for the place, with Artefacto winding up fourth in the final jump. Runner-up Indiano got up by a nose in the head-bobbing photo, with 56-1 longshot Close It Out in turn a nose better than Artefacto. Apriority, Cajun Breeze and Atlantic Bull completed the official order. Field Commission was pulled up after taking a bad step and vanned off.
Bred in Kentucky by D.J. Stable, Gantry is out of the multiple stakes-winning Rhum, a daughter of Go for Gin and half-sister to Private Emblem, who captured the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby in 2002 and earned $783,152 from a 24-7-3-5 line. Gantry, who sold for $140,000 as a yearling at the 2008 Keeneland September sale, is a half-brother to the multiple stakes-placed Song of Pirates.
He made his first eight career starts for Mike Hushion in New York, winning thrice before being transferred to Faucheux's Louisiana-based stable last fall. Gantry captured his first start in the new barn, winning the November 24 Thanksgiving Handicap at Fair Grounds, and followed with victories in the Gaudin Memorial Stakes and Duncan F. Kenner Stakes, all at six furlongs. The improving gelding entered the Smile off a respectable third in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Sprint at Churchill Downs, finishing behind Shackleford and sprint champion Amazombie.
With the $240,560 pay day, Gantry has now earned $568,245 from a 13-7-0-3 ledger.