Florida-bred It’s Sizzling Time had to wait until his 40th career start to take on stakes horses but the 6-year-old gelding made the most of his added-money debut with a victory in the $100,000 John B. Campbell at Laurel Park Saturday. In a determined effort, It’s Sizzling Time won the mile-and-an-eighth test by a slim nose against seven other 4-year-olds and older with jockey Jean Briceno aboard.

It was also the first career stakes victory for trainer Valrie Smith, who conditions It’s Sizzling Time for Chuckie Inc. and Mona Bowley. Smith owned and trained It’s Sizzling Time for Mona Bowley through his first 11 starts before Chuckie Inc. joined the ownership team by taking Smith’s share in September of 2021. Smith purchased It’s Sizzling Time for $1,000 out of the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Eastern Midlantic Fall Yearlng Sale in 2019.

“I’m so excited, I’m lost for words,” Smith said. “It’s my first [stakes victory], so it’s exciting.

It’s Sizzling Time raced mid-pack throughout most of the John B. Campbell and was as much as 12 lengths behind even-money favorite Bob Marco through quarter-mile splits of :23.77 and :46.94.

Bob Marco continued to lead second-running Double Crown by more than two lengths around the far turn as It’s Sizzling Time began to close the gap with a ground-saving trip from four lengths back. Double Crown took over from Bob Marco in deep stretch as It’s Sizzling Time continued with purpose on the rail.

Double Crown and It’s Sizzling Time hooked up with a sixteenth of a mile to the finish when It’s Sizzling Time appeared to get a neck advantage inside the final 50 yards. However, Double Crown battled back on the outside to force a photo finish as they crossed under the wire together in a final time of 1:52.64 on the fast track.

Be Better was five lengths farther back in third followed by Martini Martin, Vance Sanders, Ain’t Da Beer Cold and Yodel E. A. Who. Forewarded was scratched.

It’s Sizzling Time was let go at odds of 11-1 and paid $25.40 to win.

“We thought he’d have a shot to win it. He’d been training so well, so we said, ‘Why not?’” Smith said. “That’s what we expected, to have him just lay off and make one run.”

The John B. Campbell was the second straight win for It’s Sizzling Time after taking an upper level, $55,000 optional claiming by two-and-a-half lengths going a mile at Laurel in his previous start on Dec. 31. He has now won at least one race in each of his five years on the track to account for a lifetime record of seven wins, seven seconds and seven thirds with earnings of $307,766.

It’s Sizzling Time is by Not This Time out of Coolenoughtosizzle, by Songandaprayer and was bred in Florida by James W. Terdik. Coolenooughtosizzle had two foals, both winners with It’s Sizzling Time her only black-type winner.

Return to the Feb. 17 issue of Wire to Wire