HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – PJG Stable’s Favorite Tale broke alertly from the starting gate to get the jump on Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) champion Work All Week and continued on to a commanding 4 ¼-length victory in Sunday’s $250,000 Smile Sprint (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
The Parx-based shipper, out of a half-sister to 1997 Horse of the Year Favorite Trick, earned a fees-paid berth in this year’s $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland with Sunday’s victory. The Smile and the $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2), which highlighted Sunday’s $1.175 million Summit of Speed program, were both Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In events.
“We hoped he could run a good race here, because last year the owners wanted to go to the Breeders' Cup, but he's not eligible and it costs a lot of money. I told them let's wait a year because hopefully he could win a race and get in,” trainer Guadalupe Preciado said. “So this was perfect.”
Although Favorite Tale enjoyed a perfect day, Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Work All Week had some trouble prior to the six-furlong race.
“[Jockey Florent Geroux] said when the horse inside [Falling Sky] broke through the gate [Work All Week] actually smashed his face. He’s bleeding,” said Richard Papiese, who campaigns the Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner with his wife, Karen. “No excuses, but it’s not a good thing.”
Favorite Tale, the 7-1 fourth betting choice, set solid early fractions of 21.84 seconds and 44.09 under Edgard Zayas while being chased by 2014 Fountain of Youth winner Wildcat Red along the backstretch and around the turn. Work All Week, the 4-5 favorite in the field of nine, gained a solid stalking position in third along the backstretch before making a three-wide move on the turn into the homestretch. After straightening out for the stretch run, Favorite Tale sprinted clear to the wire as Work All Week wore down Wildcat Red to finish second. Wildcat Red, ridden by Javier Castellano, held third, 1 ½ lengths ahead of Grande Shores.
Favorite Tale ran six furlongs in 1:08.85.
“It was great. I sent him all the way until I got the lead, and he’s a horse that once it gets a lead he will keep on going,” Zayas said. “[Preciado] just told me to have a good break and to extend the lead. Today was a special day.”
The gelded son of Tale of the Cat had been winless in three starts since capturing the Gallant Bob (G3) over his home track last September.
“He's been training beautiful. For this race, he was doing unbelievable and you couldn't ask him to go better than the way he did it,” Preciado said. “We gave him all winter off. He's a gelding and hopefully we keep him running for a few years.”
Work All Week, who defeated defending champion Secret Circle in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, finished second for the second time this year, extending his streak of only first- and second-place finishes to 16 races.
“We had a good trip, nice trip. I don't know...I always seemed to be asking him, all the way around. Maybe he didn't like the track,” Geroux said. “When the horse inside me broke through the gate, he tried to follow him. Sometimes it plays with their heads."
Preciado said he wasn’t sure where Favorite Tale would race next, but it’s not expected that his gelding will meet Work All Week in the immediate future.
“We wanted to win one to get into the Breeders' Cup. Now we need to figure out how to get there. We have easier races for him now at Parx because he's PA-bred. It's not big money but we can keep him in good shape,” he said. “We don't need to kill him against the big horses before the big race.”