Frontrunning Smooth Like Strait Upsets G3 DeMille

By Mary LaRue
Del Mar, CA (December 1, 2019)-Smooth Like Strait took it to his 2-year-old rivals in the rescheduled $102,808 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G3T) Dec. 1 at Del Mar, winning wire-to-wire.

Foaled and raised at Columbiana Farm Smooth Like Strait was bred by and is owned by Cannon Thoroughbreds, LLC.

The Michael McCarthy trainee went off at odds of 15-1, but that didn’t matter once the gates flew open. Under jockey Geovanni Franco, the Midnight Lute colt was sent to the lead from post 11 in the 13-horse field. The pair set fractions of :22.91, :47.99, and 1:12.48 through six furlongs.

With Smooth Like Strait traveling well within himself, the colt opened up coming off the turn and into the stretch. He won by 2 1/2 lengths and finished the mile on firm turf in a final time of 1:36.02.

“He ran well. He showed he could handle the distance nicely,” Franco said. “Mike has done a nice job with him, moving him up and along nicely. He handled this course fine today. I think the rain was good for it. For the dirt track, too. They both seem to be very good right now. The winner is a nice colt. He may be ready now to step up and win some other really good races.”

Smooth Like Strait paid $33.20, $16.20, and $14.20, and Goliad returned $7.60 and $4.80 to place. Third-place Last Opportunity, three-quarters of a length behind Goliad, paid $16.40 to show. Hit the Road, the 2-1 favorite who drew the rail, missed third by a nose.

It was the first stakes score for Smooth Like Strait, who broke his maiden in his third start Oct. 31 at Santa Anita Park. In that 5 1/2-furlong turf test, he also set the pace after the break and pulled away in the stretch to a 2 1/4-length score. He finished ninth in his debut on dirt and then came back on the turf to finish third.

“He had a good work at Del Mar this summer before he ran on Pacific Classic Day on the dirt and just spun his wheels,” McCarthy said. “It was always in the back of my mind to try him on the grass because he acts like a grass horse. Obviously, today he was able to get himself on an easy lead, put them to sleep, and the rest is history.”

Bred in Kentucky out of Cannon Thoroughbreds’ Flower Alley mare Smooth as Usual, Smooth Like Strait is the first graded stakes winner for his dam, who has a winner from two other foals to race.