Smokin’ Joey returned to racing in typically competitive form for Wez Hunter through autumn and winter, and the Mornington-based trainer he is confident of first-up success for the popular veteran in Saturday’s Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield.
Running a credible fourth in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) on January 24th; progressing to success in the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) before running a close second to Suavito in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) on Blue Diamond Stakes Day.
While unable to make much of an impact in his next three starts, the son of Encosta De Lago returned to the paddock after posting an impressive and brave win in the Listed Eye Liner Stakes (1350m) at Ipswich on June 13th.
Hunter has been thrilled with Smokin’ Joey’s condition in recent weeks and confirmed the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m); previously underlined as his first-up target, remains in the works.
“I was looking at trialling him next Wednesday morning at Mornington but I saw the noms were pretty light on so I threw him in,” Hunter told RSN.
“We will still go to the P B Lawrence second up.
“He had three weeks off after the Eye Liner and has done particularly well since arriving back with me.
“He wasn’t gross or anything like that when he got to me and he has got that residual fitness on fresh legs. He is right where I want him.
“He is really well. His work yesterday (Tuesday) was super. Given the right run he should be somewhere in the money.
“At weight for age there are horses there that are thirty points lower than him almost and they are carrying the same weight so he gets in pretty well. His record at Caulfield is pretty good.”
Posting eight wins and as many minors through a long and busy 52 career starts so far, Smokin’ Joey began his racing tenure under the guidance of Lee Freedman; passing through the stables of Anthony Freedman and Mick Price before arriving in the care of Hunter partway through his 2013 spring campaign.
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best 2015 Bletchingly Stakes odds, for which Smokin’ Joey can be taken at a generous quote of $6.50 for success.