Stronach Stable's 4-year-old filly Her Smile was last seen under silks finishing a game third behind Musical Romance in the $1 million Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4. She's set to resume her career Sunday as one of the favorites in a field of seven fillies and mares drawn for the $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Her Smile will be wearing different colors than she did in the Breeders' Cup when she raced for owner Bobby Flay and trainer Todd Pletcher. Days later she was purchase by Frank Stronach for $1 million at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock sales. The daughter of Include returns with Chad Brown as trainer and leading rider Javier Castellano named to ride in Sunday's 6 ½-furlong test.
“She's trained great,” said Brown Wednesday. “I'm really looking forward to running her (first time). I think we'll keep her in one-turn races this year.”
Her Smile ran respectable races around two turns at Tampa Bay Downs early last year, but disappointed finishing 11th in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Turned back to shorter trips, she won the six-furlong Prioress Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on July 4.
While Her Smile will attract plenty of attention coming off the layoff, the Hurricane Bertie appears to be wide-open with rivals that have run well over the track at the meet, including Terra Di Sienna Stables' Pica Slew, R. Larry Johnson's Strike the Moon, West Point Thoroughbreds' Belle of the Hall and E. Paul Robsham Stable's R Holiday Mood.
Jockey Luis Contreras will be back aboard Pica Slew for trainer Brian Lynch after they teamed up for a game runner-up effort behind Pomeroys Pistol in the six-furlong Sugar Swirl Stakes (G3) on Dec. 10. The race was her first in 11 months and first for Lynch, who trained Stronach Stable's Sugar Swirl to a sweep of the three Graded stakes for filly and mare sprinters here in 2008, including the Hurricane Bertie.
Belle of the Hall and Strike the Moon finished one-two, separated by a half-length in a 6 ½- furlong allowance here on Jan. 20. Jockey Elvis Trujillo rides Belle of the Hall for trainer Tom Albertrani. The 5-year-old chestnut daughter of Graeme Hall was turning back from a disappointing fifth-place effort going two turns in the Elmer Heubeck Distaff at Calder in November.
Jockey Edgar Prado rides Strike the Moon for trainer Michael Trombetta, finishing a game third behind Pomeroys Pistol and Pica Slew in the Sugar Swirl before the allowance race. The 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon scored her biggest victory in the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks going seven furlongs around two turns in September after another big effort when second by a head in the Delaware Oaks (G2) in July.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out R. Holiday Moon with jockey John Velazquez after they teamed up last out to win the Ocala Stakes for Florida-breds going a mile on Jan. 8 in her first start since June. The homebred daughter of Trippi won the Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in May on Preakness weekend.
Completing the field for the Hurricane Bertie are Whisper Hill Farm's Funny Sunny, Kent Desormeaux; and Florence Patitucci's Ms Vanenzza, Rajiv Maragh.
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