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SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Hat Creek Racing’s Illegal Smile gave her connections plenty of reasons to flash the pearly whites, surging to the front on a firm outer turf playing fast and leading at every point of call for a 1 1/4-length maiden-breaking victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Stewart Manor for juvenile fillies going 6 furlongs at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Illegal Smile entered without a victory through her first 4 starts but had earned blacktype in both of her previous stakes appearances on Woodbine’s turf, running third in the Catch A Glimpse on August 23 and second in the Woodbine Cares on September 19.
Making her Big A debut, the Wesley Ward trainee broke sharp under Cristian Torres from post 3, leading the 8-horse field through the opening 1/4-mile in 21.97 seconds and the 1/2 in 44.89. The Irish-bred daughter of Camacho maintained the edge out of the turn and completed the 6-furlong sprint in 1:08.62, outkicking Honey Pants to give Torres his first career win on the New York Racing Association circuit.
“It’s a dream come true. To ride here in New York and win a stakes, I have no words to describe it,” said Torres, who won his fourth career stakes, including the Carry Back and Roar this year at Gulfstream Park.
Off at 4/1, Illegal Smile, bred by W. Maxwell Ervine, returned $10.40 on a $2 win bet. She more than doubled her career earnings to $97,346.
“I didn’t get too many instructions; just to let her relax a little bit and turning for home, she was going awesome,” Torres said. “She broke sharp and nobody was in front of me, so I just took the lead and relaxed a little bit. When we turned for home, I asked her and she just took off.
“She was doing everything by herself, I just put my hands up and she did all the work,” he added. “I knew we were going quick, so I waited until we turned for home to really ask her. She responded, changed leads and was all business to the wire.”
Honey Pants, owned by Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister, made her stakes debut off a maiden-breaking win on October 25 in her first start on turf for trainer Christophe Clement. Under jockey Trevor McCarthy, the Cairo Prince filly finished 2 lengths in front of Lexinator for second.
“The pace was hot, and it was setting up beautiful for us,” said McCarthy, who won the $100,000 Turnback the Alarm (G3) aboard Royal Flag earlier on the card. “I was able to save all the ground and she really liked the cover. When I got her out of cover, she gave me a super strong kick but every time I got near Wesley’s horse, it seemed like she found another gear.”
Show Me the Honey, the favorite Magisterium, Herald Angel, Spirited Beauty, and Magical Soul completed the order of finish
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