Smokin Nitro fires big to win Laurel Friday feature
Smokin Nitro won for the sixth time this year, taking an allowance at Laurel Park. Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Michael Cox homebred Smokin Nitro, patiently brought along since his debut this spring, earned his sixth win from nine starts in his Maryland debut with a front-running upset of Friday’s feature race at Laurel Park.
Ridden by Angel Suarez for trainer Jamie Ness, Smokin Nitro ($15.60) covered 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02.84 over a Kelso turf course rated good to win by a length over Dubini, favored at 4-5 favorite in the open $55,000 entry-level allowance for 3-year-olds that drew a field of seven.
Smokin Nitro blazed through fractions of 23.30 and 45.79 seconds, pressed to his outside by 35-1 long shot Snowday, a multiple stakes winner and Grade 3-placed 8-year-old making his 41st career start. As Snowday began to drop back following five furlongs in 56.87, Dubini picked up the chase but was unable to catch the winner, who took a three-length lead into the stretch.
Friday’s win was the first on turf for Smokin Nitro, whose only other grass start saw him finish second in a second-level allowance/optional claimer Aug. 28 at Parx. The Pennsylvania-bred made his first eight starts at Parx, winning his first two starts by 13 ½ combined lengths before finishing off the board in the Danzig Stakes. Since then, the More Smoke gelding has been first or second in six straight starts, five against older horses, including back-to-back wins.
“He is a rocket. I went through all my conditions in [Pennsylvania],” Ness said. “We used our conditions, didn’t get high on him and put him in stakes or anything like that, other than the 3-year-old stake, and that’s the only time he didn’t run.
“I said all along this horse, as he gets older, he’ll be a five-eighths turf horse, that’s what he’ll be, because he’s really fast,” he added. “He’s going to be hard to catch going five furlongs. He can still run on the dirt, but his future will be five-eighths on the turf. All I can say is he’s just a really fast horse.”
Ness indicated the $250,000 Steel Valley Sprint for 3-year-olds going six furlongs on dirt Nov. 19 at Mahoning Valley would be the next spot for Smokin Nitro.
“That was our goal the whole time. We’ve been looking for a race for him,” Ness said. “The two-other-than at Parx didn’t go, the three-other-than wasn’t in the book so here we are and it worked out good.”
In other action Friday, Gary and Mary West’s Astounding ($4.80) was a gate-to-wire winner of Race 7, a $45,000 second-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up, going 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.14 over the Kelso layout; and Mark Grier’s Gotham Gala ($5.60) was a popular winner of Race 8, a $42,000 entry-level allowance for fillies and mares 3 and older. The winning time was 1:10.62 for six furlongs over a fast main track.