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Smoken Up's 1:48.5 first sub-1:50 Down Under mile

April 30, 2011

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Smoken Up, an 8-year-old gelding by the Winbak Farm-bred Tinted Cloud, became the first horse to win a race in sub-1:50 time in Australasia on Saturday night when he won the $100,000 one-mile Les Smith Memorial in 1:48.5 at the seven-eighths mile Tabcorp Park Menangle outside of Sydney, Australia. Mr. Feelgood, the 2006 Little Brown Jug winner, finished third.
Smoken Up, who earlier in the month won the Inter Dominion and then had his championship questioned by a screening positive for DMSO, turned in a powerful performance in his record-setting mile. After the Inter Dominion victory, Smoken Up's trainer-driver, Lance Justice, proclaimed that Smoken Up was so good that he planned to try to become the first sub-1:50 performer in Australia or New Zealand. The record mile took place on a cool night without wind, but after a week of rain. Rainfall the night before and the forecast of rain in the area resulted in a smaller than hoped for crowd on a big night of stakes racing at Menangle.
Smoken Up started from post eight and was sent away from the gate on his toes by Justice. Luke McCarthy and Mr. Feelgood held their position inside and Justice crowed Mr. Feelgood as he crossed over, which stewards later decided was an infraction, and slapped him with an eight-day suspension.
The first quarter was clocked in a fast :25.7 but McCarthy decided to try Smoken Up again and took a run at the pacesetter in the second panel, which put Smoken Up at the half in :53.1. At that point McCarthy was able to tuck in along the pylons behind Smoken Up.
Justice kept the speed going an Mr. Feelgood faded as a possible threat in the last turn. In the third  quarter Justice asked Smoken Up to turn it on and the horse covered the panel in :27.6. With plenty of urging from Justice, Smoken Up sprinted home in :27.9, winning by about 30 feet over runner-up Rohan Home, with Mr. Feelgood third.
The Menangle track is the largest oval in Australia or New Zealand. It was designed and constructed by the American firm of Charles E. Coon & Sons and opened in 2009. Although it is seven-eighths mile in circumference, it has wide, sweeping turns, unlike seven-eighths mile ovals at Woodbine and Hoosier Park.
To watch the race, click here and scroll down to race 9, then click on "Video replay.
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