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LOUISVILLE, KY – Cannon Thoroughbreds homebred Smooth Like Strait is shipping east for the first time as he seeks his second stakes score in Saturday’s $100,000 War Chant Stakes Presented by TwinSpires.com at Churchill Downs.
The War Chant is a 1-mile turf event for 3-year-olds and is part of an 11-race card that includes four other stakes:
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1. South Bend (12/1) – After failing to sustain a Kentucky Derby (G1) Trail attempt, he moved to the turf and hit the board in his first three subsequent starts, all against stakes foes. His most recent effort was a non-threatening seventh in the English Channel Stakes, but his result can be forgiven after getting bumped and sent wide when trying to launch a rally.
2. Bodecream (12/1) – Three straight losses on dirt to start his career preceded his maiden-breaking effort while making his turf debut. He hit the board in three subsequent efforts on the lawn, including winning the Texas Turf Mile Stakes at Sam Houston in January.
3. Island Commish (12/1) – Paco Lopez returns to his saddle after piloting him to all three career victories for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. He was most recently a weakening fourth in the English Channel Stakes, his first start in four months, so he has room to improve here while getting Lopez aboard once more.
4. Vanzzy (20/1) – He has yet to touch turf after running on the other two surfaces in his six career starts, but two of his three wins came on synthetic, which tends to lean more toward turf horses. Additionally, both of those were two-turn stakes that earned him Beyer speed figures of 83 and 82, much better than anything he had done on dirt.
5. Field Pass (4/1) – A neck victory in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) on synthetic followed a similar score in the Dania Beach Stakes on turf. Trainer Mike Maker has a 27% strike rate when moving horses from synthetic to turf.
6. Hieronymus (9/2) – The Godolphin homebred has a near-perfect record of 5-4-0-0, all on turf, including back-to-back minor stakes at Fair Grounds. The Girolamo colt’s running style is to lead early and try to hold on late.
7. Bama Breeze (30/1) – He has much to overcome here, having made only one career start (a maiden victory while going two turns over this course) that came last September. However, it speaks to trainer Rusty Arnold’s faith in the Honor Code gelding’s ability that his long-awaited return comes against stakes foes, rather than in a first-level allowance event.
8. Liam’s Pride (30/1) – All but one of his six career starts have either come sprinting or on dirt, and he has only a maiden victory to his name. That said, trainer Doug O’Neill has a 15% win rate when going from two sprints to a route and 13% when changing from turf to dirt, so he is not without a chance.
9. Smooth Like Strait (5/1) – After breaking his maiden sprinting on the Santa Anita Park turf, he stretched out to a mile and wired the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G3) at Del Mar. His most recent effort saw him nearly wire the Pasadena Stakes, getting caught late after leading early, so expect him to be on or near the lead from the get-go.
10. Shared Sense (15/1) – The Godolphin homebred makes his first turf appearance after compiling a 5-2-1-0 record on dirt. Trainer Brad Cox has won 30% when moving horses from dirt to turf and convinced his first-call jockey Florent Geroux to ride.
11. Street Ready (15/1) – Both of his career wins came on turf, including his maiden-breaking effort over this course and distance last September. Most recently, he took a mile-long allowance/optional claiming event with Chris Landeros – aboard for this race – in the irons.
12. Pixelate (6/1) – He makes his first start since finishing a narrow second behind Hieronymus in the Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds on February 29. Trainer Mike Stidham and jockey Joel Rosario won 18% of their shared mounts in 2019, though this will be the first time they team up aboard this City Zip colt.
13. Billy Batts (5/1) – He compiled an 8-2-3-1 turf record (including 5-1-3-1 at this distance) before attempting the dirt in the Saudi Derby Cup last time out. Though he finished a non-threatening seventh, Sharif Mohammed Alhariri purchased him privately and sent him to trainer Steve Asmussen, who chose this as his first start back stateside.
14. Fenwick Station (50/1) – Trainer Eddie Kenneally adds blinkers to the Magician colt after he finished off the board in both 2020 starts. He won a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claiming event over this course last September in his third start, so he could logically improve with this being his third start off of the layoff.
15. Natural Power (15/1) (Also Eligible) – Despite a record of 6-2-2-1, including last time out against allowance/optional claiming foes while going 1 mile at Fair Grounds, he still needs at least one rival to scratch for him to make the gate. Trainer Mark Casse has been high on him and even considered sending him to try the Kentucky Derby (G1) Trail at one point.
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