Espinoza Scores Last Minute Mount, Victory On Miles Ahead In Smile Sprint

Miles Ahead has been slow to develop, but the patience trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., has shown with the 4-year-old colt is starting to pay in a big way.

Three-wide entering the far turn under jockey Victor Espinoza, Miles Ahead drove to the lead entering the stretch to win Saturday’s $200,000 Grade 3 Smile Sprint Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. by a half length over Chance It. Diamond Oops finished third. Owned by David Melvin, Leon Ellman, and Laurie Plesa, Miles Ahead covered the six furlongs in 1:09.61.

The Smile was one of 12 races comprising Saturday’s Summit of Speed card highlighted by the $350,000 Grade 2 Princess Rooney Stakes, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race also won by Espinoza aboard Ce Ce.

“He’s an improving horse…one of those horses you have to have patience with,” Plesa said. “Some of these horses are late developers and he’s come around nicely.”

Entering the race off a second-place finish behind Diamond Oops in the $60,000 Hollywood Lakes, Miles Ahead raced three wide down the backstretch just off the pacesetter Willy Boi, who went the opening quarter in :22.55 and a half mile in :45.16. But, around the turn, Espinoza made his move on Miles Ahead and took the lead entering the stretch before driving to victory.

Espinoza, who picked up the mount on Miles Ahead when named jockey Edwin Gonzalez was forced off his mounts after being thrown from his mount in the previous race, said: “It was nice that I was on the outside and I was able to control the race the whole way and see what the inside horses wanted to do. It worked out perfect. It was a pretty talented horse I rode.”

“We gave $175,000 for him [as a 2-year-old],” said Plesa of the son of Competitive Edge. “I worked him he never showed anything. I put him on the turf because he never showed anything, and he got beat 30 lengths. I dropped him in for $12,500 and he won the length of the stretch. He’s been an over-achiever since then.”

Miles Ahead, a winner of eight of 16 starts, has now earned $260,000.

The Smile is named in honor of the champion sprinter of 1986 bred and owned by Frances A. Genter Stable. Smile was a Grade 1 winner whose first seven races were at Calder Race Course for trainer Frank Gomez.

The post Espinoza Scores Last Minute Mount, Victory On Miles Ahead In Smile Sprint appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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