Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred writer Maggie Kimmitt will catch up with Laurel Park trainer Hamilton Smith about Kentucky Derby contender Done Talking as he completes final preparations for the Kentucky Derby. Check back for regular updates.
Hamilton “Hammy” Smith is just getting warmed up.
“I just got off the phone. They’re calling me all day long,” he laughed, clearly amused and somewhat surprised by the build-up to next week’s Kentucky Derby. Smith, 67, heads to Louisville early next week with his first-ever Derby starter: Done Talking, winner of the Illinois Derby.
A fixture on the Laurel Park backstretch, Smith and his horse have given the Maryland racing community something to smile about. Before shipping Skeedattle Stable’s bay son of Broken Vow and the Dixieland Band mare Dixie Talking to Churchill Downs Sunday, Smith will give the colt a final blowout at Laurel under regular jockey Sheldon Russell.
“He’s gonna go five-eighths and gallop out three-quarters,” Smith said of the workout planned for Saturday morning. “So far he’s doing everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s right on key.”
Smith himself will make the drive to Kentucky on Monday. His wife, daughters and a granddaughter are flying down later in the week.
“You know my brother will be there,” he said, “so that’s gonna be like a family reunion I guess.”
Smith’s brother is Franklin G. “Goree” Smith, owner of Elloree Training Center in South Carolina. Done Talking is a third-generation graduate of the center, with Goree Smith developing his dam and granddam, Gin Talking for longtime client Skeedattle.
Asked what he’s looking forward to most, Hammy Smith said “I’m looking forward to the race itself. All that stuff that goes on beforehand – you gotta tell the same story over and over. After a while, what can you say?”
Everyone who knows Smith is sure he’ll come up with something. /Maggie Kimmitt