Swettenham Stud shuttler Hold That Tiger sired his first Group 1 winner when Smiling Tiger defeated Australian Horse of the Year Scenic Blast in the Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar on Sunday.
Smiling Tiger took the lead from the gates and jockey Victor Espinoza kept him firing up front clocking 44.60s for the first half-mile. Scenic Blast (Scenic) delivered a determined finish but the leader answered the challenge to score by 1.5 lengths in 1.09.20s.
“This is a special horse,” trainer Jeff Bonde said. “Our goal is the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.”
Smiling Tiger (3c Hold That Tiger – Shandra Smiles by Cahill Road) has won 4 times and been placed in the remainder of his 7 starts to date. He won on debut by six lengths at Golden Gates and then doubled up with an eight length runaway in the Listed Lost in the Fog Stakes at the same venue.
The Hold That Tiger youngster faced Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike) when he stepped up to the G2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar last August. He set a cracking clip up front but was collared by the champion colt in the final furlong.
It was a similar scenario next time out in the G1 Del Mar Futurity. Lookin at Lucky continued his rise up the rankings with a convincing victory and his winning run has continued this year with Group 1 results in the Preakness Stakes and the Haskell Invitational last Sunday.
Smiling Tiger also franked the juvenile form-line out of the west coast last year when he won the G3 Lazaro Barrera Memorial at Hollywood Park in May. That hit-out prepared him for a career-high effort back at Del Mar on Sunday.
“Smiling Tiger was a really good two year-old but he’s even better now,” Espinoza said. “I just dropped the reins and let him do his thing. He’s unbelievable. Really fast.”
Owners Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz bought Smiling Tiger for $40,000 at the Washington yearling sale in September 2008. He is the second winner for Shandra Smiles (Cahill Road) who was a Listed winner of the Federal Way Hcp at Emerald Downs.
Smiling Tiger sits atop 217 winners sired by Hold That Tiger. There are 24 black-type performers in that total and his winners arrive at an excellent 60% strike-rate.
Hold That Tiger (Storm Cat) is currently in quarantine after being extremely well received by breeders in France this year. Swettenham stands him for a $5,000 (inc gst) fee on an Early Bird Booking.