Windy Hill Farm's Smarty's Echo worked a half-mile in company Sunday morning in preparation for Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Lecomte Stakes, centerpiece event of the Road to the Derby Kickoff Day at Fair Grounds.
The chestnut son of Smarty Jones was caught in :48 4/5 over the fast main track.
"That work went really well for us," trainer Anne Smith said, speaking outside her barn later in the morning. "I don't know if the clockers caught them both or not, but I know what I got him in.
"He worked in blinkers and that seemed to help him focus a little bit. I think now that we'll run him in blinkers in this race coming up. James Graham was aboard for the move today. The other horse broke on top but 'Smarty' caught up to him before the wire.
"The other horse is a little more mature than 'Smarty' is at this time," added Smith, known locally for preparing Windy Hill's Nates Mineshaft to win Fair Grounds' Mineshaft and New Orleans Handicaps two years ago at the Crescent City oval. "'Smarty' is still just a little bit too playful. Athletically, he is very talented and now we're trying to get him to focus a little better to utilize that talent."
Smarty's Echo has only made four starts so far in his career and all were last year during his juvenile campaign. He finished third in his career debut over grass at Arlington, then came back to break his maiden by a head on September 6 over that Chicago oval's Polytrack. Moving on to Keeneland -- again on Polytrack -- for the October 5 Breeders' Futurity, the Kentucky-bred colt finished second, beaten less than three lengths despite being steadied early and then racing wide.
However, his next started in Santa Anita's Breeders' Cup Juvenile was a total disappointment where he was far back throughout before finishing 10th, beaten 16 lengths.
"I don't even like to talk about that race," admitted Smith, who came up under two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Carl Nafzger. "It was his first start on dirt and a whole bunch of other things went wrong. The owners (Windy Hill's father-son duo of Pete and Scott Reiman) were very disappointed.
"Hopefully, we've put that race behind us now," she concluded. "I was really encouraged by the way things went this morning."