It's the same old Ops Smile as he comes on late in field Bonifaces' stretch runner in form with Turf arrival

November 08, 1997|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- It should surprise no one. The last of the Breeders' Cup horses arriving from out of state was Ops Smile.

The 5-year-old Maryland-bred, who's made a career of last-minute flourishes, arrived Thursday with trainer Bill Boniface and Bill's daughter, Kim, groom and exercise rider.

They left Bonita Farm in Darlington about 7: 30 a.m., drove to Newark, N.J., boarded a plane, flew to Memphis, Tenn., changed planes and flew to Los Angeles. They arrived at Hollywood Park, site of today's Breeders' Cup, about 8: 30 p.m.

It was Ops Smile's first plane ride. "He shipped like a trouper," Bill Boniface said.

Twenty-to-one in the morning line, Ops Smile will compete in the Breeders' Cup Turf, a 1 1/2 -mile race worth $2 million. Boniface said they came late to minimize the effects of time and weather changes.

Ops Smile hasn't won since June 7, when he roared from last place in the Grade I Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park. He was 21-1. Since then, he's finished no better than third in four starts. But in his last race, the Grade I Turf Classic Invitational three weeks ago at Belmont, he closed so fast after a slow early pace that Boniface and the horse's principal owners, Jackie and Roger Schipke, decided to try the Turf.

Yesterday, Boniface thumbed through the Daily Racing Form and identified five horses in the 11-horse field who might provide a lively pace -- the better to set up Ops Smile's closing rush.

Although Breeders' Cup day usually provides many surprises, you can count on one thing: Ops Smile and Awad will trail the Turf field as it surges out of the gate.

Both are sons of Caveat, and in running style they're twins. Awad is 7, and the Turf will probably be his next-to-last race. With earnings of $3.17 million, he is the second-richest Maryland-bred behind Cigar.

"I don't know what more he could do for me," said David Donk, his New York trainer. "He put me on the map. It'll be a sad day when he leaves. No three horses are going to fill his stall."

Jim Ryan, who bred Awad at Ryehill Farm near Mount Airy and remains part owner, said it's time to retire the durable runner.

"We're waiting for somebody to come up with a firm offer," he said.

By the time Marylanders see the two Maryland-breds in the Turf, they will have watched Countess Diana in the Juvenile Fillies and Radu Cool in the Distaff.

A daughter of Carnivalay, who stands at Country Life Farm near Bel Air, Radu Cool is 10-1 in the morning line. Her trainer, John Shirreffs, said the 5-year-old mare is "extremely temperamental."

The likely favorite in the Juvenile Fillies, Countess Diana also has Maryland roots. The mating that produced her -- the Maryland-bred mare T.V. Countess to Deerhound -- was arranged by Herman J. Kossow, a Washington dentist, and Maryland trainer Carlos Garcia.

"I just feel it's wonderful to be a party to something this grand," said Kossow, who will watch the race on TV at home. "You only dream about these things."

Pub Date: 11/08/97

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