SIR Michael Stoute was most pleased with the run of South African import Smart Call, who finished third to shock winner Blond Me in Thursday’s Gr2 Betfred Middleton Stakes over 2000m at York, UK.
Smart Call, the 2016 J&B Met winner, was given a caring ride by Jim Crowley and looked soundly beaten going into the last 200m. They took off with 50m to run and would have snatched second from The Black Princess in the next full stride. Queen’s Trust, the 2016 Breeders Cup Filly and Mare winner, took fourth in a field reduced to a Quartet following the scratching of So Mi Dar and Chain Of Daisies.
Stoute said: “I’m very happy with Smart Call. She had not run for 16 months so you would think she would come on for it. She bounces off fast ground, it was pleasing to see her run so well. I’ve no idea where she goes next.”
The old master may have downplayed that, perhaps truly surprised at what Smart Call had achieved without a vigorous ride. There are suitable races coming up for Jessica Slack’s filly, including the Gr1 Prince Of Wales’ Stakes over 2000m at Royal Ascot on 21 June – a race five weeks away, which could be an ideal target but will be subject to her post-race condition and progress in the next few weeks.
Long-term, the Breeders Cup will be a tempting option again – this time from a far more solid footing pointing at the 2017 renewal opposed to last year when Smart Call had months of travel, periods in quarantine and a late and unfortunate injury to contend with. Perhaps, in hindsight, all will work out for the good!
“I am beyond excited. Hats off to the whole team. So proud of our girl!” enthused Slack, who watched the race in South Africa.
Photo: Smart Call in Cape Town, 2016. (Liesl King)