Churchill Downs stakes recaps by track’s publicity department (Photo of Smokin’ T by Jetta Vaughns/Coady Photography)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022) – Smokin’ T, with the Hall of Fame tandem of jockey John Velazquez and trainer Shug McGaughey, grabbed the lead with a furlong to run and drew clear late to win Saturday’s 44th running of the $289,858 River City (Grade III) at Churchill Downs by 1 ¾ lengths over Harlan Estate.
Smokin’ T, owned and bred by Diana Ryan’s DATTT Stable, ran 1 1/8 miles over a “good” Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:50.66 to defeat 11 other 3-year-olds and up.
Breaking from post No. 6 in the field of 12, Smokin’ T relaxed just off the early leaders down the backstretch in mid-pack as Dominican Pioneer dictated the early pace through fractions of :23.33, :47.96 and 1:13.25. Leaving the final turn, Smokin’ T ranged into contention with a five-wide move and quickly met the leaders in upper stretch. Velazquez waited to drop his hands to ask Smokin’ T for his best run with three-sixteenths of a mile to run and the 4-year-old responded by darting past the fading Dominican Pioneer. Harlan Estate and Siege of Boston, who both raced far back early on, made late runs in deep stretch but they were no match for Smokin’ T.
“He sometimes wastes a lot of energy early in the race pulling but he was better today,” Velazquez said. “He got a good pace setup which helped him as well. He’s improved all year long and ran very well today.”
Smokin’ T returned mutuels of $10.54, $5.56 and $3.82 as the 4-1 second betting choice. Harlan Estate, at 15-1 under Joseph Ramos, paid $15.38 and $7.22. It was another neck back in third to Siege of Boston under Jorge Ruiz, who paid $4.88 to show at odds of 5-1.
Grand Sonata, Dominican Pioneer, Injunction, 3-1 favorite Rockemperor (IRE), Red Run, Kitodan, F Five, Cellist and Stitched completed the order of finish. Accredit, Beatbox and Street Readywere scratched.
The victory for Smokin’ T was worth $174,150 and increased his earnings to $700,460. He boasts a record of 5-1-6 in 18 starts. Earlier this year, Smokin’ T won the $135,000 restricted Lure at Saratoga, which was his first stakes victory. He was
“He’s always been a bit head strong in the early part of his races,” said Reeve McGaughey, assistant to his father. “I think he did a better job relaxing today and not wasting as much energy. We thought this distance would suit him better. It was also nice to see him finish well once he got in front. At Kentucky Downs two starts ago he sort of hung a little bit. He’s had a solid year and likes this track here at Churchill.”
This marked Shug McGaughey’s second River City victory. He won the seventh renewal in 1984 with Eminency when the race was carded at one mile on the main track.
Smokin’ T, a 4-year-old son of War Front out of the Ghostzapper mare Wine Princess, was bred in Kentucky.
WICKED HALO WINS $300,000 DREAM SUPREME IN HER RACING SWAN SONG
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023) – Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s homebred 4-year-old filly Wicked Halo concluded her career in style with a come-from-behind two-length triumph over Little Prankster in Saturday’s 18th running of the $300,000 Dream Supreme (Listed) at Churchill Downs. The victory was her eighth against stakes company in three seasons of racing, and third this year.
Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, Wicked Halo had a perfect trip in the six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Wicked Halo relaxed in last of six down the backstretch as Your So Sillea ran the first quarter mile in :21.61. She advanced into fourth around the turn and needed a seam to get through at the top of the stretch after a half-mile in :44.75. The opening appeared and Wicked Halo shot through with ease between Your So Sillea and a fading Fire On Time. Wicked Halo took command at the three-sixteenths pole and easily turned back the chasing Little Prankster to stop the teletimer in 1:09.97.
“She’s an incredibly nice filly,” Gaffalione said. “She was able to relax a little bit early and turning for home really responded nicely when I asked her.”
The win was worth $183,450 and improved Wicked Halo’s career earnings to $1,579,400 with a record of 9-3-5 in 18 starts.
“We’re so proud of her career and for her to go out like the winner we know she is,” Asmussen said. “This was her swan song and she’ll head off to the broodmare band. She’s been incredible for us on the racetrack and we’re extremely proud of what she’s accomplished.”
At age 2, Wicked Halo won the $200,000 Adirondack (GII). Her 3-year-old season included wins in the $158,700 Leslie’s Lady Overnight Stakes and $188,500 Tepin at Churchill Downs; $250,000 Prioress (GII) and $334,500 Raven Run (GII). Earlier this year, Wicked Halo won the $250,000 Matron at Oaklawn Park and $125,000 Twin Bridges at Ellis Park.
Prior to the Dream Supreme, Wicked Halo finished a nose back of eventual Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint runner-up Yuugiri in the $350,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (GII) at Keeneland on Oct. 7.
Wicked Halo, the odds-on 4-5 favorite, returned $3.66, $2.36 and $2.10. Little Prankster, the 8-5 second choice under John Velazquez, paid $2.64 and $2.20. Last Leaf, with Luis Saez up, was another 2 ¼ lengths back in third and paid $3.12 to show at odds of 13-1. Your So Sillea, Fire On Time and Royal County completed the order of finish.
Wicked Halo is a 4-year-old daughter of Gun Runner out of the Tapit mare Just Wicked and was bred in Kentucky by her owners.
Asmussen won the Dream Supreme for a record-extending fifth time. His other wins came withSavorthetime (2004), Speedinthruthecity (2014), Vertical Oak (2018) and Mia Mischief (2019). Winchell Thoroughbreds also campaigned Speedinthruthecity.
The Dream Supreme is named after the six-time graded stakes winner who won the Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs in 2001. Trained by Bill Mott, Dream Supreme won two Grade I sprints in her 16-race career and earned $1,007,680 between 1999-2001.
RIVER CITY QUOTES
John Velazquez (jockey, Smokin T, winner): “He sometimes wastes a lot of energy early in the race pulling but he was better today. He got a good pace setup which helped him as well. He’s improved all year long and ran very well today.”
Reeve McGaughey (assistant trainer, Smokin T, winner): “He’s always been a bit head strong in the early part of his races. I think he did a better job relaxing today and not wasting as much energy. We thought this distance would suit him better. It was also nice to see him finish well once he got in front. At Kentucky Downs two starts ago he sort of hung a little bit. He’s had a solid year and likes this track here at Churchill.”
DREAM SUPREME QUOTES
Tyler Gaffalione (jockey, Wicked Halo, winner): “She’s an incredibly nice filly. She was able to relax a little bit early and turning for home really responded nicely when I asked her.”
Steve Asmussen (trainer, Wicked Halo, winner): “We’re so proud of her career and for her to go out like the winner we know she is. This was her swan song and she’ll head off to the broodmare band. She’s been incredible for us on the racetrack and we’re extremely proud of what she’s accomplished.”
Phil Bauer (trainer, Little Prankster, second): “She ran a really credible race behind a really nice horse. We were just second best today.”