Smile Sprint Stakes – USA Big race preview

The Smile Sprint Stakes has been run since 1984 The race originally was run at Calder Race Course, but has since switched to Gulfstream Park staring in 2015. The Smile Sprint is the feature race during Gulfstream Park’s biggest sprint racing day called the Summit of Speed. The fastest winning time in the races history was completed by Favorite Tale in a final time of 1:08:85. The largest margin of victory happened in 2003 when Shake You Down won by 8 1/4 lengths . 

Last years winner of the Smile Sprint Stakes was XY Jet. XY Jet is one of the most accomplished sprint horses in North American racing. He has amassed over $3 million in career earnings, which includes 8 stakes victories.

Last year’s Smile Stakes victor; XY Jet

The Grade 3 Smile Sprint will be race 13 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The race will be contested at 6 furlongs with 7 horses scheduled to go to post for the $250,000 purse.  Proforma could be installed as the favorite on race day coming from post 1. 

Trainer Michael Stidham had this to say about Proforma: “Numbers-wise his figures have been pretty comparable. His actual best number of his career was his last one, and that one was on the dirt,” Stidham said. “He won the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint – that was a $500,000 race – so he’s obviously good on both surfaces. He’s training really well right now. We’re looking for a big effort from him.”

Proforma; The likely favourite for the Smile Stakes

Trainer Ralph Nicks had this to say about #5 Garter and Tie: “He’s in good shape,” Nicks said. “[The Ocala] was amazing. It was an amazing race. He just got into a huge rhythm and ran probably the best race of his life. We were very impressed, but it was impressive enough to wonder if he’s going to bounce a little bit. He’s put three nice races together, but it’s a bit of a concern.”

Trainer Elizabeth Dobles had this to say about #6 Royal Squeeze: “Last time he ran I expected him to pretty much open up on the field, and he didn’t,” trainer Elizabeth Dobles said. “I was a little concerned after the race, thinking that I might be kind of pushing my luck running him back and everything like that. Instead of breezing him, I wanted to have an easy race for him and that looked like a perfect spot. He ran a little quicker than I would have liked, but he seemed to come out of it OK.

Big Race Predictions

The Lead:
Race 13 of 14 on Summit of Speed Day at Gulfstream Park, the tradition-rich G3 Smile Sprint anchors an outstanding day of dashers. This 6-furlong test for older horses joins the G2 Princess Rooney, the Umphrey Turf Sprint, the Carry Back and Azalea for 3-year-olds on the docket. First post gets underway at 11:30 a.m. ET and the first stakes goes in Race 3, the Umphrey Turf Sprint, featuring red-hot Pay Any Price in search of his 18th career score as a potential early pick five single.

Field Depth:   
PROFORMA holds the ace with the field’s lone G3 victory in last year’s Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint. Recent listed stakes winners FAST PASS, GARTER AND TIE and ROYAL SQUEEZE match up evenly with past Gulfstream Park listed stakes winners DIAMOND OOPS and CAUTIOUS GIANT. The class edge leans to PROFORMA.

ROYAL SQUEEZE and stakes debuter JALEN JOURNEY appear to be the only speed and this race shape could benefit those on or near the front. And with a huge sprint card scheduled, don’t be shocked if the main track is extra-fast and favors speed.

Our Eyes: 
PROFORMA is lightly raced this year and makes his third start of his form cycle off a strong second to New York Central at Pimlico on Preakness weekend. The Steve Asmussen barn was on point with everything it sent out, so New York Central ran a career-best in victory, making PROFORMA a horse whose effort there was even better than it may appear on paper. PROFORMA posted his best race lifetime in last year’s Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint while also making his third start off a layoff. Trainer Mike Stidham has this one firing morning bullets at Maryland’s Fair Hill Training Center. If the Munnings gelding handles Gulfstream Park’s surface and weather, he’ll be tough to beat. Sire Munnings’ offspring excel at Gulfstream on the dirt, according to, showing 20% winners and a $1.23 ROI for every $1 bet from more than 120 starters.

If you’re going to beat PROFORMA, a strong finisher, it has to happen up front. The speed options here, ROYAL SQUEEZE and JALEN JOURNEY, would be the threats. They come in with 4 and 3-race winning streaks, respectively. ROYAL SQUEEZE has faced the tougher competition of the pair and may be advantaged with the post position draw outside of JALEN JOURNEY. But the old axiom that you never fear just 1 other speed horse applies; if either of these doesn’t break, the other could absolutely give the field the slip.

Like PROFORMA, DIAMOND OOPS has had success on dirt and turf. He’s headed back to the Gulfstream main track, where he’s won 2 stakes. DIAMOND OOPS was a decent fifth in the G1 Jaipur last out against America’s top turf sprinters. But he’s lost 3 straight and you have to dial the way back machine to 2017 to find his last victory in a start-and-stop career. DIAMOND OOPS is not without chance, but you should demand at least 8-1.

FAST PASS caught CAUTIOUS GIANT late in the Open Lead Stakes here in late May when the runner-up was the 4-5 favorite. FAST PASS is in raging form right now and might get a bit more early help vs. FAST PASS with that one likely having to make a first-over move behind ROYAL SQUEEZE and JALEN JOURNEY. The price might not be as spread this time between the Open Lead Stakes 1-2 finishers, but I will bank on FAST PASS being the more playable of the pair in the rematch.

GARTER AND TIE dominated the Ocala Stakes at Gulfstream last out at 6-1/2 furlongs. His rallying style came up just short to ROYAL SQUEEZE prior to that over 7 furlongs. The 6-furlong distance of the Smile would seem to work against him, and that 10-length win margin last out is apt to take more money at the windows than a run-of-the-mill score. The 3-year-old also battles some salty veterans at what’s probably an underlay price. The pace doesn’t look like it will fall apart in front of him.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:
 PROFORMA is 13-for-14 in the superfecta lifetime with 11 top-3 finishes. He should come with his run.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender: Don’t see any real bombs in this 7-horse field, though FAST PASS was overlooked at 7-1 last time and may not get bet hard this time either.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll): One of the key early speed horses should hold for half of the exacta with PROFORMA the late threat. $60 exacta ROYAL SQUEEZE over PROFORMA; and $40 exacta JALEN JOURNEY over PROFORMA.  

Check out the full racecard and betting at RaceBets here


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