HE’S 17-years-old and hasn’t raced since September 2014, but former champion pacer Smoken Up is still fighting fit.
In fact, as he wanders a paddock at trainer Lance Justice’s property Smoken Up gives the impression he could still break two minutes without too much fuss.
“He still keeps himself active,” Justice said. “He enjoys a stretch in his paddock.
“He’s like the old guy who retires but stays somewhat active playing golf. He doesn’t work up much of a sweat, but keeps the body moving.
“It wouldn’t take much to get him to run a half descent time for his age….what is the record for a 17-year-old in a time trial?”
Enjoying retirement alongside another Justice stable – Sokyola – Smoken Up will be honoured at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night, with Justice hoping the multi-millionaire receives an invitation to lead the field onto the track.
“It’s amazing when you look out to the paddock and see the two together,” Justice said. “They’ve got four Miracle Miles between them and a host of other big races.
“They’re good mates but I’m sure if they could compare records Smoken Up would be bragging as much as possible.
“It would be nice if he was there on Saturday night to lead out the field.”
Smoken Up claimed 13 Group Ones across Australasia, won at 15 tracks and set numerous records, including becoming the first standardbred in the Southern Hemisphere to better 1:50.
Further to his 1:48.5 success at Tabcorp Park Menangle, Smoken Up registered an additional 73 victories and 54 placings from 150 starts for earnings of $3,606,635.
Finding it difficult to pick one of Smoken Up’s tough wins over another, Justice had no problem naming the strangest moment he had while campaigning the champion.
During Smoken Up’s warm up before the New Zealand Cup, a woman made her way on to the track and began to strip as Smoken Up approached, with track staff looking on and laughing.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Justice said. “Here I am taking the horse through his preliminary and a woman races onto the track and starts stripping as we pass.
“She wasn’t shy either. She took the top straight off and revealed the lot.
“When people saw the pictures they didn’t believe me they were real and thought I superimposed her on the track.”
As for the Smoken Up Sprint, a solid field of free-for-allers are set to clash over 1720 metres, including Wrappers Delight, which won last season’s edition of the Group Two.
Prepared by David Aiken, Wrappers Delight’s title defence has been enhanced by the draw, with the son of Bettors Delight to begin from the pole.
Luckless in the VHRC Classic three weeks ago, the Australian Pacing Gold purchase captured the My Lightning Blue Free-For-All at his previous outing.
“He had a few easy days after his last run to freshen up and has been working great,” Aiken said. “It’s a pretty solid field, so he will need to be at his best, but I’m confident that’s exactly where he is at.
“I’ve also got Audi Hare from barrier four and he is capable of surprising a few with the right run.”
Unplaced after a tough run in last week’s Kilmore Cup when first-up for 12 months, Shadow Sax shapes as the main danger despite his second row draw.
One of four Emma Stewart-trained runners in the field, Shadow Sax also began from the back row when runner-up in last year’s sprint.
“He’s come through his run really well, which is terrific,” Stewart said. “He will certainly benefit from the outing and is forward enough to run a good race.
“The draw hasn’t done him any favours, but he does follow out Wrappers Delight which usually begins quickly.
“I expect him to go very close and he will be better again for the Victoria Cup next week.”