Todd A. Pletcher Racing Stables, Inc.

Bal Harbor Takes Flight in $75,000 Smooth Air

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Red Oak Stable homebred Bal Harbour came with a steady drive down the center of the racetrack to reel in stubborn longshot Whereshetoldmetogo and win Saturday’s $75,000 Smooth Air by a neck at Gulfstream Park.

The one-mile Smooth Air was the second of three stakes featuring 2-year-old males and one of six overall for juveniles to kick off an all-stakes 11-race Clasico Internacional del Caribe program being held outside Latin America and the Caribbean for the first time since its inception in 1966.

Bal Harbour ($6.60), a narrow second choice at 2-1 to Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate Coltandmississippi, completed the distance in 1:38.01 over a sloppy and sealed main track. Whereshetoldmetogo, well-beaten by Bal Harbour in the Sapling Stakes Sept. 2, was 6 ¾ lengths clear of Stronger in third.

It was the second straight stakes win for Bal Harbour, a chestnut son of multiple Grade 1 winner First Samurai, following his 1 ¼-length triumph in the one-mile Sapling, his most recent start. Pletcher also won last year’s Smooth Air with Fact Finding.

“He’s had a pretty active 2-year-old campaign and we wanted to freshen him up a little bit,” Pletcher said. “We thought that since he had already handled the mile, we didn’t want to shorten him up and this would be the logical place to bring him back. He’s trained well and with the rain we didn’t feel it’d hurt his chances at all since he’s shown some form on an off track.”

Bon Raison, the third of Pletcher’s Smooth Air triumvirate, was quickest from the gate and led the field of 10 through an opening quarter-mile in 23.50 seconds with Winking At Thedude and Coltandmississippi in closest pursuit.

Javier Castellano had Bal Harbour relaxed running fifth, moving up after a half in 46.70 seconds and steering to the outside at the top of the stretch following six furlongs in 1:12.21. The Hall of Fame jockey set Bal Harbour down for the run to the wire and gained ground with every stride to edge clear late.

Forever Taken, Coltandmississippi, Winking At Thedude, Handsome Franco, Renaissance Frolic, Bon Raison and Tip Sheet completed the order of finish.

“I had a perfect trip, sitting right behind the speed,” Castellano said. “We went pretty quick. I tried to save some ground and love the way he finished today. Todd told me to take my time, just put him where he belongs and go from there. Down the stretch I knew I had it.”

Pletcher said he would likely point to Gulfstream’s series for 3-year-olds that starts with the one-mile Mucho Macho Man Jan. 6 and concludes with the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) March 31.

“He’s a hardy little horse and tries hard. It looked like he had a fight on his hands from the eighth pole to the wire and kept fighting a little more,” Pletcher said. “The great thing about the winter and spring is that there are plenty of choices to run. Timing for the Mucho Macho Man would make sense to run him there if he trains accordingly.”

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