by Jeremy Plonk
October 19, 2020
Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.
October 12-18, 2020
MVP: Smooth Like Strait
Owner: Cannon Thoroughbreds LLC
Trainer: Michael McCarthy
Jockey: Umberto Rispoli
Performance: The west coast’s top 3-year-old turf performer was back on his game in Santa Anita’s Grade 2 Twilight Derby Oct. 18. Smooth Like Strait sat a perfect, first-over trip behind a longshot leader and left no doubt after 1-1/8 miles, running the final 3 furlongs in :35.15 (final eighth in :11.75). This score made amends for a troubled trip in the Grade 2 American Turf at Churchill Downs as the chalk. Smooth Like Strait, a son of Midnight Lute, has now won 5 of his last 8 dating back to last October, including 4 stakes at 3 tracks – Del Mar, Churchill and Santa Anita.
On Tap: The Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 28 at Del Mar would be the next logical spot to stay within his scope at 1-1/8 miles and stick with 3-year-olds while he can. The Grade 1 Mathis Brothers Mile during the opening of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting could also be a target at year’s end, but against elders.
Honorable Mentions: A couple from Woodbine earned plaudits this week as Oct. 17 Glorious Song winner Souper Sensational cruised to her second win without defeat and looks like a promising 2-year-old filly, while Oct. 18 Grade 1 E.P. Taylor heroine Etoile earned her first domestic major for Chad Brown. Warren’s Showtime delivered to expectations in winning the Grade 3 Autumn Miss at Santa Anita on Oct. 17. At Keeneland, Red Knight ran a career-best in winning the Oct. 15 Grade 3 Sycamore for turf marathoners, while Venetian Harbor punched her ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint with her Grade 2 Raven Run wire job on Oct. 17. And tip the cap to the ageless Welder, who won the Oklahoma Classics Sprint Oct. 16 at Remington Park for the third straight year.