Unlucky to be blocked for a run early in the final straight and seventh in Saturday’s Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m), trainer Wez Hunter has confirmed the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) at Perth’s Ascot Racecourse will figure as the next point of call for Smokin’ Joey on November 22nd.
Charging home to finish an agonizingly-close second to champion miler Boban in the 2013 edition of the Emirates Stakes, Smokin’ Joey settled in good position within the pack during the running of Saturday’s Flemington feature, and while finding a clear racing line with 300m to run, was unable to make up the distance on runaway winner Hucklebuck.
Pleased with the Encosta De Lago gelding’s overall performance in the Emirates Stakes, Hunter is confident the confirmation of notable pace-setter The Cleaner for a Railway Stakes berth will play into the strengths of Smokin’ Joey in Perth.
“I thought he was honest without being brilliant but he didn’t have much luck,” Hunter told Racing Victoria of Smokin’ Joey’s Emirates Stakes performance.
“He ate up last night (Saturday) and he’s pulled up really well. He went to the best this morning (Sunday) and he’s good.
“In the autumn he was similarly around the mark without having much luck and we took him to Adelaide and he had the right run and won a Group 1 so I’m hoping that he can do the same again here.
“Having The Cleaner in this year’s race race will definitely help to inject a bit of speed but I just hope we can draw a nice gate and have a good run in the race around midfield.”
Securing six race wins and a further seven minor places from his 43 competitive appearances on course so far, Smokin’ Joey began his racing tenure under the guidance of trainer Lee Freedman in 2010; passing through the stables of Anthony Freedman and Mick Price on his way to the care of Hunter at the beginning of the year.
Beating just one runner home in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) first-up this year on February 22nd, the gelding out of Dalzing continued to build towards a credible sixth in the Group 3 Victoria Handicap (1400m) on April 19th before breaking through for a maiden victory at the highest level of Australian racing in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) on May 10th.
Running eighth in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) first-up this time, Smokin’ Joey has continued to produce competitive results; most notably via a commendable fifth in the Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) leading into the Emirates Stakes.