Willy Boi Dominates G3 Smile Sprint at Gulfstream
Sutherland Guides Rising Sprint Star to Victory
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Lea Farms LLC’s Willy Boi benefited from a perfect trip under Chantal Sutherland to register a comfortable length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Smile Sprint (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Slightly favored at 4-5 over Grade 1 winner Drain the Clock, Willy Boy also collected a $50,000 ‘Win Only’ bonus available to a Florida-bred winner.
The Smile, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up named in tribute to Florida-bred 1985 Eclipse Award champion sprinter, was featured on Saturday’s Summit of Speed program that was headlined by the $300,000 Princess Rooney Invitational (G2), a seven-furlong ‘Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In’ sprint for fillies and mares.
Willy Boi, who captured the Hutcheson and finished fourth in last year’s Smile, is now undefeated in three starts since being transferred to trainer Jorge Delgado, having come off an eight-month layoff to capture an April 8 optional claiming allowance before going on to prep for the Smile with an impressive win the the Big Drama May 28.
“I’m so grateful that Lea Farms gave me the chance to train these kind of horses,” said Delgado, who notched the first graded-stakes success in the May 21 Chic Lang (G3) at Pimlico with Lea Farms LLC’s Lightening Larry. “I hope I can get more of this quality of horse, because I love to win these kinds of races.”
Drain the Clock, also sent to post at 4-5, was making his first start since finishing off the board in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) March 26, had his head turned when the starting gates opened but was quick to recover. However, the Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained winner of the 2021 Woody Stephens (G1) was outsprinted along the backstretch by Yes I Am a Beast and Gatsby, who vied for the lead during a 21.74-second first quarter of a mile. Drain the Clock advanced to the lead three-wide on the turn into the stretch but was quickly joined to his outside by Willy Boi, who had rated behind the contested pace. Willy Boi went on to open a clear lead in the stretch and was in complete control to the wire, holding off a late-running Pudding.
“I did get a little nervous in the gate because there was a little bit of noise and commotion. We broke a little slow, but the track has been playing a little for closers from off the pace and not holding speed as well, so it kind of worked in our favor,” Sutherland said. “I was comfortable, but I kept my eye on [Drain the Clock]. I thought he ran a great race. In the lane when I came to him, I wanted to get away from him because I know he’s a pit bull and he’ll fight, and I didn’t want to fight with him today, so I wanted to stay away from him.”
Willy Boi ran six furlongs in 1:09. 71 seconds. Pudding rallied from last to finish second, 3 ¼ lengths ahead of Absolute Grit. Drain the Clock tired to finish another length back in fourth.
“He got beat up. It was one of those days,” said Saffie Joseph Jr., trainer of Drain the Clock. “Not much to say. Don’t know why he ran like that, but he’ll see tomorrow. I don’t really have excuse.”
For Sutherland, the Smile Sprint victory continued a career resurgence at Gulfstream Park.
“It meant a lot to me at the beginning being at the top, but now having been to the top and been on the bottom, to be coming back, it’s means so much more,” Sutherland said.
The Smile is one of 12 graded dirt stakes included in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Dozen, an incentive-based participation bonus program. Willy Boi earned a $30,000 credit toward the entry fee for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 5 at Keeneland. The second-place finisher Pudding earned a $15,000 credit, while third-place finisher Absolute Grit earned a $7500 credit.
Delgado said he had no definite plans for Willy Boi’s next start.
“It’s undecided but I think we’ll go to Saratoga with him,” said Delgado, whose ultimate goal for the 4-year-old son of Uncaptured is the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.