Smiling Tiger is a four year old colt, sired by Hold That Tiger, that is owned by Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz. He is trained by Jeff Bonde and is a horse that seems to now be getting into his racing gear. Although he is a horse that is known for being kept either in the lead or near the race leader, unforeseen circumstances forced the colt and his jockey to change strategy, and Smiling Tiger did not disappoint. Ridden by Joel Rosario for the first time, both horse and jockey were able to keep their eye on the prize, remain calm and deliver a breathtaking performance at Santa Anita.
With his latest victory in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap, Smiling Tiger has earned over $870 000 for his owners and has now won six races off thirteen career starts, of which some of his victories have been in Grade 1 events. With Rosario on his back and sound advice from trainer Jeff Bonde, the pair seemed ready for the event. Unfortunately, as the gates swung open and the horses leapt into action, Smiling Tiger stumbled after hitting the starting gate. This put Smiling Tiger in fifth position, and not where he is generally favored to be. Rosario, however, was determined to get Smiling Tiger back into the leading group, and slowly started to move him forward by working his way through the field. He saved ground where he could, and by the time they hit the final furlong they were well on their way to challenging Captain Cherokee for the lead. Smiling Tiger won the race by a nose, with Captain Cherokee in second, Mythical Power in third and Ventana in forth.
Smiling Tiger has proved that he is able to rally his way from the back and change tactics when needed. Under the guidance of his jockey, he was still able to deliver and responded well when asked. He is therefore not only a wonderful sprinter, but a versatile horse. Alan Klein was overjoyed and admitted that there was a moment that they did think all was lost, saying: “It was unbelievable. When we saw that stumble we looked at each other and thought, ‘Oh no!’ But he really showed his class today and this is one classy, classy horse.”