Willy Boi and Chantal Sutherland win the Smile Sprint at Gulfstream Park
Leah Farms LLC’s Willy Boi enjoyed a perfect trip under Chantal Sutherland to record a comfortable length win in Saturday’s $100,000 Smile Sprint (G3) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.
Slightly favored at 4-5 over Grade 1 winner Drain the Clock, Willy Boy also picked up a $50,000 “Win Only” bonus available to a high winner in Florida.
The Smile, a six-stage sprint for kids ages 3 and up named after the Florida-raised 1985 Eclipse Award winning sprinter, was featured on Saturday as part of the Summit of Speed program which was presented by the $300,000 Princess Rooney Invitational (G2), a seven furlong “Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In” sprint for fillies and mares.
Willy Boi, who captured the Hutcheson and finished fourth to Smile last year, is now unbeaten in three starts since moving to coach Jorge Delgado, after an eight-month layoff to capture an optional claim allowance on April 8 before moving on to prepare for the smile with an impressive win at Big Drama on May 28.
“I’m so grateful that Lea Farms gave me the chance to train these kind of horses,” said Delgado, who scored the first ever graduated stakes success at the May 21 Chick Lang (G3) in Pimlico with Lightening Larry. of Lea Farms LLC. “Hopefully I can get more of that quality of horse because I like winning those kind of races.”
Drain the Clock, also dispatched at 4-5, was making his first start since finishing on the board at the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) on March 26, had his head turned when the starting gates opened but was quick to recover. However, the Saffie Joseph Jr. trained winner of the 2021 Woody Stephens (G1) was edged out along the back stretch by Yes I Am a Beast and Gatsby, who battled for the lead in a 21-minute first quarter mile .74 seconds. Drain the Clock took the lead three wide on the stretch corner but was quickly joined on its outside by Willy Boi, who had fallen behind the contested pace. Willy Boi then opened up a clear lead down the stretch and had perfect control over the wire, holding off a late pudding.
“I got a little nervous at the gate because there was a bit of noise and commotion. We braked a bit slowly, but the track played a bit to get closer to the pace and also didn’t hold the speed, so that kind of worked in our favor,” Sutherland said. “I was comfortable, but I kept an eye on [Drain the Clock]. I think he had a great race. In the lane when I came to him I wanted to get away from him because I know he’s a pit bull and he’ll fight, and I didn’t want to fight him today so I wanted stay away from him. ”
Willy Boi ran six furlongs in 1:09.Hey C71 seconds. Pudding rallied from last to second, 3¼ lengths ahead of Absolute Grit. Dump the tired clock to complete another length in fourth.
“He got beaten up. It was one of those days,” said Drain the Clock trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. ” Not much to say. I don’t know why he ran like that, but he’ll see tomorrow. I don’t really have an excuse.
For Sutherland, the Smile Sprint victory continued a career resurgence at Gulfstream Park.
“It meant a lot to me at the beginning to be on top, but now that I’ve been on top and on the bottom, coming back means so much more,” Sutherland said.
The Smile is one of 12 graded dirt stakes included in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Dozen, an incentive-based participation bonus program. Willy Boi got a $30,000 credit towards the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) entry fee on Nov. 5 at Keeneland. The second, Pudding, got a credit of $15,000, while the third, Absolute Grit, got a credit of $7,500.
Delgado said he had no specific plan for Willy Boi’s upcoming departure.
“It’s undecided but I think we’ll go to Saratoga with him,” said Delgado, whose ultimate goal for Uncaptured’s 4-year-old son is the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.