PRIORESS STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | GRADE 1 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | 6 FURLONGS
Well beaten in her last two tries, Bobby Flay's Her Smile became a Grade 1 winner July 4 when she rallied from last to score in the $250,000 Prioress Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.
The 3-year-old daughter of Include trailed the field of six for much of the early going and was still fourth when they hit the top of the lane, but following the daring lead of rider Javier Castellano she found an opening along the rail and passed everyone while holding off the outside charge of Pomeroys Pistol to win by a half-length.
It was the first graded stakes victory for Her Smile, had been winless in her previous five tries this season. In her last two races, the dark bay/brown filly was 11th in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and a distant third in the June 11 Acorn (Grade 1) over Belmont's muddy main track.
Her Smile is trained by Todd Pletcher. Out of the Capote mare Hepburn, she was bred in Virginia by William M. Backer.
Roman Treasure and Quantum Miss ensured a quick pace in the six-furlong Prioress, as they dueled through the opening four furlongs. Roman Treasure, with Ramon Dominguez aboard, held a narrow advantage through splits of :21.78 and :44.55. Stalking the whole way, favored Alienation sat a comfortable third early and took a brief lead when they turned for home.
It was at about the eighth-pole when Castellano decided to move Her Smile from the three-path towards the rail. Making a beeline for the inside, they shot through a narrow opening along the inside and went by Alienation and Quantim Miss in mid-stretch. Her Smile was able to hold off a late charge by Pomeroys Pistol and Cornelio Velasquez, who also came from off the pace with their wide rally.
The final time over the fast dirt was 1:09.44. Pomeroys Pistol was 3 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Alienation, who edged Quantim Miss by a neck.
"I had a perfect trip. It was a jockey's dream trip," Castellano said. "They were burning speed, and they backed up really quick to me at some point. I had to choose the best direction to take, and I'm glad it opened along the rail. It was a short cut, the best way to go. I got very lucky, and my filly went through a tiny hole and got it done. I knew if I could get through, I'd win the race."
As a juvenile Her Smile showed promise as a sprinter, winning three of four starts in the Mid-Atlantic region including the Donna Freyer Stakes at Parx Racing in November. All five of her previous starts this season had been at one mile or more.
"I think she's a versatile filly; obviously, the key was the set-up today," Pletcher said. "Today, we were talking :21 and :44 and change. We wanted to be back off the pace and make one run. We were able to save ground and come up the fence; it couldn't have worked out any better."
Flay purchased Her Smile privately from Backer shortly after she ran second in the April 9 Comely at Aqueduct. It was the first grade I win for the celebrity chef.
"It was awesome, a great feeling," Flay said. "Obviously we didn't expect to win today because there were so many great, fast fillies in the race and she's never run against this kind of company at this short of a distance."
Her Smile has now earned $316,360 from her 10 starts.
Her Smile paid $16.20, $7.20, and $3.50 as the fifth choice. Pomeroys Pistol returned $7.10 and $4 and filled out an exacta (1-6) worth $69.50. The trifecta (1-6-5) was worth $254.50.
Roman Teasure was fifth, followed by Our Year.