How to Bet the Smile Sprint Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 27th, 2018

Want to see a horse that exemplifies the definition of pure speed? Then you should tune in to watch and wager on Saturday’s $250,000 Smile Sprint Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.

The six-furlong sprint serves as an early summer prep race on the road to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, so all eyes figure to be focused on the blazingly fast #8 X Y Jet, a six-year-old gelding that has surprisingly never competed in the Breeders’ Cup.

Trained by Jorge Navarro, the son of Kantharos has been pretty much a monster at Gulfstream Park dating back to December 2015, winning all five of his starts over this track during that timeframe. Even more remarkable, X Y Jet has never been headed during the first half-mile in his last eight U.S. starts, routinely throwing down :21-and-change quarter-miles to sprint his rivals off their feet.

Essentially, X Y Jet knows of just one way to run—all-out from start to finish—and since he’s got the speed to back it up, he’s been able to accumulate earnings of nearly $1.4 million. His career total would be even higher if not for narrow losses in the 2016 and 2018 renewals of the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) in Dubai, races in which he led near the wire before getting caught in the final strides.

Six furlongs is X Y Jet’s game, and if he runs his race he shouldn’t lose the Smile Sprint. On the other hand, he is getting older and this will be his first start back from Dubai. I’m not sure I’m willing to trust him completely at a short price, especially with #2 Classic Rock and #6 Splash Rules likely to push X Y Jet during the first half-mile.

So instead of relying exclusively on X Y Jet, I’ll also play an exacta boxing him with #1 Reason to Soar. This lightly-raced, up-and-coming four-year-old ran third in a couple of restricted stakes races last year, but has really blossomed following a long layoff and looks ready to step up in class. The son of Soaring Empire is 4-for-4 at Gulfstream Park, which includes three straight allowance wins at Gulfstream this year while posting steadily increasing BRIS speed figures of 92, 95, and 102. Even better, Reason to Soar’s style of rallying from mid-pack should be perfectly-suited to the Smile Sprint Stakes, giving him an opportunity to avoid a destructive pace duel with X Y Jet and instead come running in the homestretch.

Here’s how I would play the race:

$5 exacta: 1,8 with 1,8 ($10) $2.50 trifecta: 8 with 1,2 with 1,2,4,6,7 ($20)

Good luck!