Nice handicapping job by Pletcher in determining that Her Smile should shorten up from her recent route efforts and run in the G1 Prioress on Monday, a race otherwise loaded with early speed.
"Sometimes you analyze a race over and over again and you think it's supposed to set up exactly a certain way, and this one actually unfolded the way we hoped it would....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."[Daily Racing Form]Even with the ideal pace and position, this filly needed to overcome some daunting traffic problems to get through. As our verbose local chart caller notes, the filly was blocked by a loosely formed wall of three horses directly up ahead - as opposed I suppose to a more organized and premeditated obstruction effort - and with another parked in the five path preventing a potential maneuver outward for freedom (on the 4th of July no less!).
Truth is though that she never was severely impeded at any point as Castellano deftly steered her to the rail for room. Her Smile earned what was easily a career best Beyer of 96 in her first sprint effort since last fall and in her 7th start of the year. It was also her first competitive effort in three tries since Bobby Flay moved her to the care of the Toddster.
Her Smile has an extremely unusual pedigree; by Include out of a mare by Capote, she's inbred 5x4 to the Kentucky Oaks winner Hidden Talent through her daughters Turn-to Talent and the 1986 Broodmare of the Year Too Bald, the dam of Exceller, Baldski, and the aforementioned Capote. Whatsmore, Her Smile has an additional instance of Too Bald, making her inbred 3x5 to that dam as well. One might think she'd excel at route racing with those bloodlines, but her three career wins have come at 6 1/2 furlongs or less. She's being pointed to the seven furlong Test, and absent a similar potential pace setup, she could prove to be an underlay in that spot.
The Prioress might be the oddest Grade 1 race in the country, as a six furlong race for three-year old fillies. Since Indian Blessing won the race in 2008, Cat Moves won in 2009 in what was her final career start (not sure what effect that has on the annual evaluation of grade designations), and the awfully named Franny Freud was retired after three subsequent losing efforts. So all you big Prioress fans might want to root for Her Smile to have some success down the road in order to maintain the race's Grade 1 status.