By Meredith Daugherty
Louisville, KY (May 23, 2020)-Cannon Thoroughbreds’ homebred Smooth Like Strait took home the first stakes win of his sophomore season with a frontrunning score in the $100,000 War Chant Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Smooth Like Strait made a beeline to the front of the field from the break and dueled Island Commish for the lead. Island Commish, under Paco Lopez, clicked off fractions of :23.90, :48.24, and 1:12.33 through six furlongs as Smooth Like Strait slowly chipped away at his lead. The pair ran virtually unchallenged rounding the turn for home, and it was another five lengths back to Hieronymus in third.
Running three wide at the top of the stretch and into the lane, Smooth Like Strait was spurred home by Velazquez and kicked clear by 3 1/2 lengths with the finish line in sight. Island Commish dropped back drastically in the stretch, fading to 12th. The opening gave Pixelate and jockey Joel Rosario the room they needed to challenge Smooth Like Strait in the final strides.
The move came too late as Smooth Like Strait crossed the wire in front by 1 3/4 lengths to finish the one-mile grass race in 1:36.77. Pixelate held for second, followed by Field Pass in third.
“The turf was really firm the entire day, and I was really excited about my horse’s chances,” Velazquez said. “Then, right before the race, the rain started, but I’m really proud that he handled everything well. He ran a hard race.”
Smooth Like Strait finished second in his only other start of the season, the Feb. 29 Pasadena Stakes at Santa Anita Park. He won at Del Mar at 2 when he took the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G3T) with a wire-to-wire run.
Bred in Kentucky, Smooth Like Strait is out of the Flower Alley mare Smooth as Usual. Trained by Mike McCarthy, the son of Midnight Lute has a 3-1-1 record from seven starts with $178,323 in earnings.