Rejuvenated sprinter Smokin’ Joey is on track to head to Brisbane for the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 after pleasing trainer Wez Hunter in a Cranbourne barrier trial this morning.
Smokin’ Joey with Ben Melham aboard came from near last on the corner to overpower Platelet and Riziz in the Goodwood with the blinkers back on but Hunter was happy to send him around without the head gear when third to Shanghai Warrior in the 800m trial today.
“I deliberately backed off him a little after Adelaide so he needed that trial this morning,” Hunter told Racing Network.
“I took the blinkers off him this morning and he really hit the line.
“That was ideal and he’s pulled up really well.”
“He’ll now fly to Brisbane on Wednesday week and go straight into the Stradbroke.”
Smokin’ Joey has been allocated 55 kgs in the Stradbroke Handicap when the weights were released this morning but with trainer Robert Heathcote announcing that top weight Buffering, 59 kgs, is not to run, means the weights will have to be raised half a kilo which will force Doomben 10000 winner Spirit Of Boom to carry 58 kgs top weight.
Smokin’ Joey had been struggling to find any form before heading to Adelaide and was only placed once from four previous starts when third to Spacecraft in a 1400m Handicap at Flemington on April 5.
But Hunter said that everything fell into place in the Goodwood and Smokin’ Joey was able to produce his best to score an empathic win to deny Platelet back to back wins in the Group 1.
“Horses like him need more luck than most,” Hunter said.
Hunter took over the training of Smokin’ Joey last Spring and got instant success with a win in the Group 3 $200,000 TAB.com.au Stakes (1400m) at Flemington and then was narrowly beaten when second to Boban in the Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington the following week.
A trip to Perth then proved unsuccessful with a last of fifteen behind Luckygray in the Group 1 $1m Carlton Draught – Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on November 23.
Smokin’ Joey is marked as a $21 chance for the Stradbroke Handicap with Ladbrokes.com.au who have the in-form filly Srikandi the $4.60 favourite.
The Gary Portelli trained Rebel Dane is next in the betting at $6 ahead of Spirit Of Boom at $6.50, Catkins at $10 and Red Tracer and Knoydart at $12.