Smokin’ Joey will head to the 2015 P.B. Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield on August 15 after he returned to racing with a dominant win in the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Smokin’ Joey was only included in the nominations for the Bletchingly Stakes on Tuesday after the original nominations were extended, but the decision of trainer Wez Hunter to enter the rising eight-year-old for the Group 3 event was vindicated when his star galloper flew down the outside before racing away from his opposition in the final stages of the race.
Hunter was delighted that Smokin’ Joey had recorded back-to-back wins for the first time under his care and he confirmed that the Encosta De Lago gelding would head to the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 15 as he heads towards the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24.
“When the noms were so light I was happy to roll the dice,” Hunter said.
“It’s better than having a jumpout, that’s for sure.
“His owner’s very keen to try him at 2000.
“He’s a full brother to Our Smokin’ Joe, who got over 2500 and won a Queen Elizabeth (Stakes), so hopefully he can do the same.”
Young hoop Chris Parnham has developed a strong association with Smokin’ Joey since he partnered him in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on January 24 and steered him to victory in the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield on February 14.
Parnham gave Smokin’ Joey the galloping room that he needs to fire in the early stages of the Bletchingly Stakes before he worked the seven-year-old into the race coming around the turn and he admitted after the event that he was surprised at just how quickly the Group 1 winner was able to hit the front.
“I probably hit the front a bit too soon, certainly earlier than I wanted to, but he just tracked into it so well,” Parnham said.
“Obviously being a bit fresher today he was able to quicken a bit better, but he probably wasn’t at peak fitness today, so he’s done a great job.”
Lord Of The Sky was a big drifter in the lead-up to the Bletchingly Stakes and he was under pressure a long way from home in the Group 3 event before he weakened badly late to finish at the tail of the field.