Top trainer Lindsey Smith gave unbeaten filly Chantrea the ‘thumbs up’ as she started her push for the Belmont Oaks with a winning return at Belmont yesterday.
Justifying hot $1.30 favouritism, the daughter of Puissance De Lume made the perfect start under Smith’s guidance, finding the line strongly in a 1400m handicap.
Racing first-up since January, Chantrea came to Smith from Grant and Alana Williams, a great pick-up after she won the opening two races of her career in Bunbury.
“She came to me in good order and showed good ability,” Smith told The Races WA.
“She has strengthened from her last prep and she will head towards the Belmont Oaks.
“She will benefit from the run and is a nice horse.
“I think once she gets over anything past a mile, because she relaxes, she will come right into her own.
“It was good to get the horse and have a chance.”
Smith is weighing up his options to get Chantrea to the Belmont Oaks (2000m) on July 4. By passing the Belmont Guineas (1600m), a key lead-up race, two weeks earlier, is being considered.
“Maybe, maybe not,” Smith.
“I don’t know if she would be able to beat them horses over a mile.
“I will discuss it with John Yovich (owner), but I may take the back door or some other way.”
Meanwhile Smith hopes his move to scratch La Vina from a 1200m handicap yesterday (Wednesday) will reap a financial benefit on Saturday.
A last-start fourth in the Sheila Gwynne Classic (1400m), the Artie Schiller filly holds $2.65 favouritism in the Perth Racing At Home Handicap (1000m).
“It was purely a stakes money and percentages, 61kg’s, drawn a bit sticky, compared to Saturday,” Smith said.
“I banked on the race falling away a little bit which it has done.
“The bookmakers think I’m a good chance and think I’ve made the right decision.
“She drops to 54kg, has a good barrier, a lot of speed on and it was purely designed on stake money.
“There is nothing wrong with her and she is good to go.”
One win and a second from three starts, La Vina has drawn barrier four. In a field of eight runners Lucy Warwick picks up her first ride on the three-year-old.
Smith also said he was pleased with Humidor’s first-up performance in last week’s Belmont Sprint (1400m), believing the multiple group 1 hero retained an appetite for racing.
Making his stable debut for Smith, the seven-year-old closed out the Group 3 event solidly, running 10th and finishing 3 ½ lengths from the winner, Perfect Jewel.
“I thought he went good and we know how good all of those horses are,” Smith said.
“To get that close to them over 1400m with the amount of work he has done, it was a good effort.
“It was a good kick off spot and you would expect him to get closer to them next time in a mile.”
Humidor will race in Saturday week’s Hyperion Stakes (1600m) and the Strickland Stakes two weeks later.