Smokin’ Joey is currently available at 2015 P.B. Lawrence Stakes odds of $3.50 following his Bletchingly Stakes and trainer Wez Hunter believes that the Group 1 winner has improved from his impressive first-up victory.
Hunter elected to include a late nomination for Smokin’ Joey in the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield after only a small group of horses were included in the initial entries for the race and the decision paid dividends when the Encosta De Lago gelding powered to a very comfortable victory.
The Mornington-based trainer was thrilled with the effort of Smokin’ Joey in the Bletchingly Stakes, but he told Racing Ahead that the eight-year-old has improved coming out of the race and would head into the 2015 P.B. Lawrence Stakes tomorrow in excellent shape.
“I think he has gone forward and I am pretty happy,” Hunter said.
“I was a little bit surprised how easy he did it because he only had the one gallop in five weeks, so I thought he might be a little vulnerable, but he never looked like losing and he was quite dominant.
“He really put himself in the race without having to be put into it and that was the most encouraging part.”
The Cleaner is sure to ensure that there is plenty of early speed in the P.B. Lawrence Stakes and Hunter believes that the presence of the cult hero is an advantage for Smokin’ Joey in the Group 2 event.
Trainers like Tony McEvoy – who has Big Memory in the P.B. Lawrence Stakes – are concerned that their horses could be flattened by The Cleaner at the start of their 2015 Spring Racing Carnival campaigns, but Hunter is confident that the fitness edge of Smokin’ Joey possesses means that this will not be a problem.
“There should be good speed with Mick’s horse in there (The Cleaner) and I would imagine he would be in the back half of the field towards the outside and hopefully sweeping home like he did last time,” McEvoy said.
“If you were first-up it could really rip the guts out chasing for so long, but the good thing for our bloke is that he hasn’t had that big break and he is fit without doing too much with him.
“I don’t think that it really comes into play with my bloke, but if you were a bit soft it is a good way to flatten one.”
Smokin’ Joey is priced at 2015 P.B. Lawrence Stakes odds of $3.50 with Ladbrokes and he is a narrow favourite from Hong Kong import Dibayani ($4.20), Gai Waterhouse-trained Excess Knowledge ($4.60) and market mover Mourinho ($6).