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Owner Bobby Flay leads Her Smile down Victory Lane after winning the Prioress Stakes
The feature race at Belmont Park on Independence Day was the $250,000 Prioress Stakes (G1), featuring 3-year-old fillies sprinting 6 furlongs on the main track. A crowd of 6,689 was on hand on a mostly sunny afternoon with temperatures in the high 80's. Alienation was sent off as the 8-5 favorite in the field of 6 off an allowance win in her 2011 debut, after finishing 6th in the Oak Leaf (G1) at Hollywood last October. In to challenge her included 5-2 second choice Quantum Miss, winner of her last three starts, the Cicada (G3), Trevose, and Wonders Delight, and 3-1 third choice Roman Treasure, winner of the Miss Royal Stakes last out.
Her Smile (inside) takes the lead in the stretch
Owner Bobby Flay, celebrating his first Grade 1 winner, said, "Yes, first Grade 1! Although, the Breeders' Cup (Juvenile Fillies Turf) should be a Grade 1. It was awesome, a great feeling. 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. We thought this might be a little too short, we thought maybe seven furlongs might be a little bit better, but we just told Javier to be really patient because it was all speed except her. We got the fractions we wanted and what a great ride."
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Her Smile Castellano 16.20 7.20 3.50 6 Pomeroys Pistol Velasquez 7.10 4.00 5 Alienation Velazquez 2.70 Winning Time: 1:09.44 $2 Exacta 1-6 69.50 $2 Trifecta 1-6-5 254.50
Left: Her Smile in the winner's circle with trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Bobby Flay on the left. Pletcher said, "When we looked at the race, it kind of looked on paper as if she were the only one without any early speed, the lone closer. Ultimately, finally, we decided this morning that if they went real fast early, it would set up for her and she could close on them. I think she's a versatile filly; obviously, the key was the set-up today. 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."
Right: Owner Bobby Flay and jockey Javier Castellano share a high five after the race.
Left: Her Smile in the paddock before the race.
Right: Her Smile in the post parade. Her jockey Javier Castellano said, "I had a perfect trip. It was a jockey's dream trip. 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."
Left: Second place finisher Pomeroys Pistol returns after the race. The 6-1 fourth choice rated in fifth early under jockey Cornelio Velasquez, then came out 4 wide for room and closed to get second by just 1/2 a length. She improved her record to 3 wins, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds in 9 starts, earning $310,178 for owner-trainer Amy Tarrant.
Right: Third place finisher Alienation in the paddock. Her jockey John Velazquez said, "She broke okay, not great, but then again I didn't want to be hooked up with those horses in front, so it worked out perfect. I sat right off of (Roman Treasure and Quantum Miss) and around the 3/8 pole she was going really, really good so I said 'Perfect, now I'm just going to wait even longer.' I waited until they passed the 5/16 to the 1/4 pole and she started getting closer to the other horses. When I asked her, she didn't move on. She finished up even down the lane - didn't kick."
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