2013 Winterbottom Stakes Hope Smokes Rivals

Another Belmont Park win by the to date undefeated Smoko has trainers Ross & Clint Price, as well as connections, more excited than ever looking ahead to a Winterbottom Stakes 2013 campaign in the summer.

Three-year-old Snitzel gelding Smoko has won all three of their race starts to date after another emphatic triumph on the weekend as the raging $1.35 odds-on favourite against a field of older runners.

Having only debuted back in May the progressive youngster enjoyed back-to-back wins over the 1000m by a collective nine lengths in their opening two career starts.

On the weekend they returned to the track for Belmont Oaks Day and never looking in doubt flying home for another easy win this time by three lengths in the $40,000 Slater Standing At Gold Front Thoroughbred Handicap (1200m) – their first look at the distance.

Overcoming a hefty 58.5kg and the wide outside barrier (12 of 12) Smoko was ultra-impressive carrying a full six kilos more than the Grant Williams-trained runner-up Celebrity Miss (52.5kg) who came off a win at the track and distance 10 days earlier.

“His best win to date. That was huge,” Clint Price, who co-trains with his father Ross, said after the victory.

Smoko is showing all the signs of becoming a serious sprinter and they are now being targeted towards the $500,000 Group 1 Crown Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in Ascot on November 23 during the Perth Summer Racing Carnival.

“The Winterbottom is the one, but he probably needs to win three or four more (to up his rating) before we look at something like that,” Price said.

“There are obvious sprint races from 1000 to 1200 which we will probably head towards.”

Some of the big name interstate rivals possibly heading east for the Winterbottom Stakes this year meanwhile include Jason Warren’s Mornington-based Bel Sprinter and Brisbane sprinter Buffering.

Bel Sprinter won the Group 1 The Galaxy by a big margin over Snitzerland first-up in March before their brave third to the since retired Black Caviar in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes.

They were then taken overseas to Singapore for a shot at the Group 1 Krisflyer International Sprint finishing a brave second behind Lucky Nine after a luckless run.

Rob Heathcote’s Mossman gelding Buffering meanwhile could go to Perth in an attempt to finally break their Group 1 duck, the rising six-year-old having contested 16 Group 1 races so far for a frustrating nine minor placings.

The Perth Festival of Racing is a great end-of-year carnival for the punters to wind things up after the spring.

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