The field for the upcoming Smile Sprint Handicap has yet to be fully declared, but one horse that will be featured is Private Zone. The seven-year old gelding is coming off a disappointing 5th place finish at the Cigar Mile, his only race since placing as the runner-up in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The winner of this weekend’s challenge will earn a berth back in to that very same race.
At 7-7-3 in 23 races, Private Zone has had an immensely profitable career. She has averaged $90,644 per start and grossed total earning of $2,900,062. The tough end to the 2015 campaign forced Private Zone to retreat to The Sanctuary in Florida for some much deserved rest and relaxation, and the choice to spend some time there has paid off.
In the leadup to the True North Handicap, which trainer Bryan Lynch later pulled him out of, Private Zone looked to be going strong. He breezed six furlongs in 1:13 2/5 on May 20th. The True North ran on June 10th and was won by Joking in a time of 1:08.04, a time that Lynch’s trainee is surely worth catching. The benefit of competing in the Smile Sprint Handicap is that it’s a Breeders’ Cup qualifier.
Also considered to be in the running for the race will be Awesome Banner who was last seen winning the Big Cyrpress Stakes. The three-year old colt now has four wins including the Swale and Hutcheson Stakes with a 5th place finish at the Fountain of Youth and an 8th place finish at the Tampa Bay Derby. Those last two races summarily forced him to withdraw from the Triple Crown series so it will be interesting to see if the Mark Casse guided youth is a bit of a late bloomer.
Speechify has also declared for the Sprint Smile Handicap but isn’t much of a factor to be honest. The six-year old gelding was 4th at the Mr. Prospector Stakes after placing third at the Woodword and 5th at the GP Sprint Challenge, all of which too place in 2015.
For those attune to the horse racing world, Private Zone has been a fan favorite and there is much hope that he has one final charge left in the hips. There’s strong reason to believe that he’ll be the favorite at the Smile Sprint Handicap on Saturday, July 2nd when the gates crack open. The six-furlong sprint is hosted by Gulfstream Park.