Smoko will face the toughest challenge of his career to date when he takes on Barakey in the Listed Goodwood Sprint (1300m) at Belmont on Saturday, but trainer Ross Price is happy with the condition of the talented sprinter heading into the $100,000 race.
Smoko has recorded six wins from his seven race starts, but he will be making his weight-for-age debut in the Goodwood Sprint after racing exclusively in handicap events during his racing career to date.
The Snitzel gelding scored an impressive three lengths win in the Listed Belmont Newmarket (1200m) at Belmont on August 9 and according to Price has come out of the race well, but the Bunbury-based trainer admits that the five-year-old faces a significant test against Barakey under weight-for-age conditions.
“He is really good, he pulled up well and he has gone forward from there,” Price told Racing Ahead.
“He has steadily been improving; he had a fair break there and it took him a little while to get back, but he seems to be pretty well back to his best now and everything is good with him.
“We are pretty happy with him.
“I don’t think the 1300 is the biggest issue.
“I think that the big issue is that we are going from a handicap, where he was on the minimum weight to a weight-for-age where he has to carry 59.
“Barakey is a very good horse, I think he has won 14 races, and he is very smart horse on his day.”
There will be just six runners in the Goodwood Sprint field on Saturday and Smoko has drawn barrier five, while Barakey will start on his outside in barrier six.
Smoko has taken up the running and led all the way in the majority of his race starts, but Price revealed that he will be leaving the riding instructions up to jockey William Pike and said that Smoko does not necessarily have to lead in the early stages of the race.
“You have Settle Strada who has drawn one and that is a very slick horse as well,” Price said.
“They might kick up and try to lead and I wouldn’t think any of the others, Celebrity Miss and Talent Show or even Zester probably would, but Settle Strada has been a front runner for a very long time and so is Barakey and so is Smoko.
“Willie Pike has rode him in all of his race starts except for one and we will leave that up to him.
“I don’t think Smoko has to lead, but he has in all of his races and dictated the terms a little bit, but if he is left in front or if he is sitting outside the leader, it doesn’t really bother us too much.
“It is going to be an interesting race.”
Smoko is set to make his Group 1 debut in the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot ion November 22 and is still a chance of heading to Melbourne for the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.