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They may have been beaten as the odds-on favourite at Belmont Park last weekend, but Bunbry trainers Ross & Clint Price will race on with their smart sprinter Smoko this winter in WA.
Snitzel four-year-old Smoko suffered their first career loss over the weekend in the $100,000 Listed Beaufine Stakes (1000m) when running a length away second behind upset winner Pininci.
It was their first-up run for the year following their outstanding start in 2013 winning all five of their assignments at both Belmont and Ascot by imposing margins.
Before the break Smoko went back-to-back at Perth’s premier track over 1000m and 1200m respectively winning both their Ascot spring starts by two and a half lengths.
They were red hot in Beaufine Stakes betting then jumping in the red with their regular rider William Pike staying on for the ride.
Smoko may have gone down for the first time but the rising five-year-old lost few admirers with their luckless resuming run.
They were caught three-wide throughout and did plenty of work from a wide gate, barrier nine of 10, to finish as close as they did behind the David Harrison-trained Pininci who scored as a 41-1 outsider.
Connections are hoping Smoko can bounce back and return to their winning ways now as they continue with their Belmont Winter Racing Carnival campaign.
Having pulled up well after the Beaufine, co-trainer Ross Price said the horse was going as good as ever and they would discuss next-up options this week with their managing owner Frank Fiore.
“We can’t fault Smoko,” Price told The West Australian.
“He’s all clear to continue racing.”
There are plenty of upcoming options for the ultra-consistent runner including the $80,000 Listed HG Bolton Sprint (1200m) on July 26 and the $100,000 Listed Belmont Newmarket (1200m) on August 9.
They could also then continue onto the $100,000 Listed Goodwood Sprint (1300m) back at the track a fortnight later.
Racing at Belmont meanwhile will continue this weekend with the running of the $100,000 Listed Belmont Classic (2200m).
The staying showdown however has lost its drawcard contender with Lark Hill horseman Adam Durrant forced to make a late decision to withdraw his Belmont Guineas – Belmont Oaks winner Tick Tick Bloom due to injury.
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