Smokin’ Joey will return to racing in the 2014 Gilgai Stakes at Flemington on Saturday and trainer Wez Hunter has revealed that the Group 1 winner will follow the same spring path as he did last year.
Hunter acquired Smokin’ Joey after he finished at the tail of the field in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) and he went on to win the Group 3 Tab.com.au Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on November 2 before he finished a close second behind Boban in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) a week later.
The Mornington-based trainer said that Smokin’ Joey will contest the same races during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival and he added that a tilt at the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on November 22 could also be on the agenda for the seven-year-old after he earnt a free trip to Perth by winning the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on May 10.
“In the spring last year we got him after he ran first-up in the Gilgai and then he won on Derby Day for us and we backed him up in the Emirates,” Hunter said.
“We are following that exact same path and hopefully he can do the same.
“I haven’t ruled out freshening him up after the Emirates and having a crack at the Winterbottom.
“When he won The Goodwood in the autumn he got the free flight over and all that jazz.
“The Railway they can often sit up and sprint home and it doesn’t really suit a horse like him with his pattern.
“When I was with Tony Noonan we had Ortensia go there and she was a get back run-on and it really suited her, so I haven’t ruled out that race.”
Smokin’ Joey has not recorded a first-up victory since won the Listed Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) on debut at Caulfield in 2010, but Hunter has been happy with the progress the Encosta De Lago gelding has made ahead of the Gilgai Stakes this weekend.
“I am actually as happy as I have been, he looks good and I am happy with where he is at,” Hunter said.
“He has come on in the last two or three weeks since we jumped him out.
“He had a little one at home and then he went to Sandown and every time he has done something he is looking great on the other side of it.
“Fingers crossed he comes back as good.”
Smokin’ Joey is set to face stiff competition in the Gilgai Stakes; with Group 1 winners River Lad and Temple Of Boom as well as the talented Chautauqua set to contest the $200,000 event.