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Jul 05, 2013

Up the Backstretch: Sprinters to blast off at Calder

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

 (Sports Network) - Get out the starting blocks, the fastest thoroughbreds in the nation are set to explode down the track Saturday at Calder Race Course in the Smile Sprint Handicap.

A full field of 12 has been guaranteed to start in the six-furlong sprint after 15 horses were entered Monday.

Topping the entries is reigning sprint champion and Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Trinniberg. The 4-year-old, who will be ridden by Willie Martinez, is the likely favorite, although he has yet to win this year.

Early in 2012, Trinniberg, trained by Bisnath Parboo, won the Swale and Bay Shore Stakes before finishing 17th in the Kentucky Derby after setting the pace. The colt won the Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park before capturing the Breeders' Cup Sprint as a 13-1 longshot.

Two from the barn of trainer Stanley Gold, Fort Loudon and Jackson Bend, are expected to make some noise in the Smile. Fort Loudon won the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship in February, but hasn't found the winner's circle since.

Jackson Bend will be making his second start on Saturday since returning from retirement. The 6-year-old was fifth in his return effort at Calder last month but was only 3 1/2 lengths behind the winner, Black Diamond Cat, in the Ponche Handicap. Just last year, Jackson Bend posted victories in the Hal's Hope Stakes and Carter Handicap.

Also coming out of the Ponche Handicap are Black Diamond Cat and runner-up Close It Out. Black Diamond Cat is stepping up in class for the Smile, but has been in the money 18 of 27 starts at his home track. Close It Out is another Calder-based sprinter with 15 top-three finishes in 16 starts at the Miami facility.

Swagger Jack is back in south Florida after a pair of races in New York. The 5-year-old won the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct in April as a 15-1 longshot, but then finished seventh at 14-1 in the Met Mile at Belmont Park.

Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen has Justin Phillip shipping in for the race. The 5-year-old finished fifth to Trinniberg in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, but came back to win the Count Fleet Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April. Most recently, he was second at Belmont Park in the True North Handicap.

The Smile Sprint was won in 2010 by Big Drama, who went on to capture the Breeders' Cup Sprint and was voted that year's champion sprinter. In 2008, Benny the Bull also won the Smile and received the Eclipse Award as top male sprinter. He returned the next year to finish second in the Smile.

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