INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Jockey Mike Smith, showcasing his Hall of Fame credentials, gave Madeo a perfectly-timed ride as the 4-year-old caught pacesetter Storm Military at the wire to win Sunday’s $100,000 Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park by a head.
The victory completed a hat-trick for the 43-year-old Smith, who has ridden 4,781 winners since breaking his maiden in 1982 at Sante Fe, New Mexico.
Madeo, fifth rounding the far turn, closed in the middle of the Lakeside Turf Course through the stretch to win for the fifth time in 13 career starts, giving the team of owners-breeders Jerry and Ann Moss, trainer John Shirreffs and Smith a second win on the afternoon. Earlier they clicked with Aitcho. Smith also rode Silver Swallow to victory one race before the Grade III Inglewood.
“He’s got a really, really good turn of foot,” Smith said of Madeo. “I wanted to stay right there when they accelerated because they were going pretty easily and I knew they were going to finish. He’s got such a great little turn of foot . . . he’s so agile. When I called on him, he jumped on it. He wanted to hang just a little, but I let him know to go on by and he did. Earlier in his career he was just green at times and he kind of caused some of the things that happened to him. One time he’d pull, the next time he wouldn’t. He’s finally figuring things out.”
Madeo covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.04 while paying $6.60, $3.40 and $2.60 as the 2-1 favorite in the field of seven older horses. Storm Military, with Brice Blanc up, returned $4.80 and $3. The show payoff on U S Ranger — ridden by Garrett Gomez — was $3.
Madeo, a son of Mizzen Mast, won the Del Mar Derby and finished second in the Oak Tree Derby in 2008. Third in the Arcadia Handicap last outing, he banked $60,000 Sunday to boost his earnings to $463,715.
“He looked good on the backside, very comfortable,” Shirreffs said. ”He looked like he was in good position, he just needed to finish. We wanted him closer, he was way back in the Arcadia.
“We can’t take him anywhere, the son of a gun,” Shirreffs added. “He doesn’t like anything. You try to do something with him and he just walks over the top of them. Unless he’s home he is unhappy. But he is maturing now, he’s maturing a lot. He’s developing a style too. He’s repeating his performances and developing a running style. He’s very versatile.”
Argentine-bred Storm Military had not started in eight months.
“We had a perfect trip,” Blanc said. “It kind of set up that way on paper. He relaxed nice and finished up good. He ran his guts out. He hadn’t run since Del Mar and Bobby (Frankel) did a great job just getting him that close.”
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