Racing: Smoken Up assumes mantle of Miracle Mile favourite

By Michael Guerin

Smoken Up driven by Lance Justice. Photo / Greg Bowker
Smoken Up driven by Lance Justice. Photo / Greg Bowker

Sanity returned to the Miracle Mile market yesterday as defending champion Smoken Up replaced arch-rival I'm Themightyquinn as favourite.

Exactly how Smoken Up wasn't already favourite for Saturday night's A$500,000 super sprint in Sydney is one of punting's great mysteries, considering he is the Australasian mile record holder and had drawn the ace.

But 65 per cent of all bets placed with TAB Sportsbet have been for the New Zealand Free-For-All winner, pushing him into $2.70, a price that should continue to shorten during the week.

I'm Themightyquinn has been relegated to second favouritism, while there has been no support for New Zealand Cup winner Terror To Love after he drew wide on the front line.

"It is going to be hard from out there, especially with so many of the favourites drawn inside us," said driver Jim Curtin.

Terror To Love has got out to $9 with bookmakers and while he is likely to start shorter on the New Zealand tote, with Sydney bookies he could get even longer.

Curtin could still come away from Menangle a winner on Saturday night as his own stable star, Franco Emirate, will start a hot favourite in the A$77,000 support race.

The New Zealand Free-For-All runnerup meets the B-grade open-class horses and considering he wouldn't have been out of his depth in the Miracle Mile he needs only to produce his best form to win.

Franco Emirate will then head to Victoria for the Cranbourne and Victoria Cups next month.

Meanwhile, leading Menangle trainer-driver Luke McCarthy has chosen to drive New Zealand-owned pacer Franco Jamar in the Mile, turning his back on A$3 million earner Mr Feelgood.

McCarthy has privately stated Franco Jamar is a better winning chance, even after drawing barrier 10.

Canterbury horseman Anthony Butt has gone the other way, though, opting for former United States pacer Lisagain as his drive in the race, rather than stablemate Raglan.

Local horseman Darren Hancock will now drive Raglan, although trainer Tim Butt says Lisagain will improve on his disappointing sixth behind Mr Feelgood and Terror To Love in last Saturday night's lead-up race.

"He actually hadn't settled in that well in Sydney," said Butt.

"He has been running the fences and carrying on where he was but he has moved out to Peter Rixon's stables, which are quieter and he is a lot calmer now.

"I think he will improve a lot on last week's run and he is drawn to trail Smoken Up so I think he is the sneaky place chance in the race."

The New Zealand TAB market on the Miracle Mile opens tomorrow morning, as does the market for Friday's night $50,000 Franklin Cup at Alexandra Park, which has drawn a superb field.

New Zealand Cup third placegetter Highview Tommy will clash with Gomeo Romeo and Smiling Shard.

- NZ Herald

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