ARCADIA, CA – Ed Brown, Jr., Alan Klein, and Philip Lebherz’s Smiling Shirlee rallied from off the pace and between rivals to win Saturday’s $150,000 Evening Jewel Stakes for 3-year-old California-bred fillies.
Breaking from the rail under Mike Smith as the 7/2 second choice, Smiling Shirlee saved ground in mid-pack as the field raced down the backstretch. The 9/5 favorite Bulletproof One showed the way along the outside of Dim Lights through fractions of :21.53 and :45.08.
Smith tipped Smiling Shirlee out at the 1/4 pole and began weaving her between foes as she picked off slower rivals. Straightening for home running five-wide, she pulled up alongside new leader Bella Vita and the two commenced a back-and-forth duel the rest of the way home.
Though Bella Vita fought back gamely when headed, Smiling Shirlee proved too much late, pulling ahead to win by a 1/2-length. The Jeff Bonde trainee completed the 6-furlong fast dirt sprint in 1:10.49.
“What a race she ran,” Smith said. “I thought that if she ran back to her last race (a 2 3/4-length state-bred allowance win going 1 mile), she’d be hard to beat today. The two (Bella Vita) ran a big race, but my filly dug in and got the job done.”
Though edged for second, Bella Vita remained 1 length ahead of Been Studying Her. Another 1 3/4 lengths back came the California Cup Oaks winner Warren’s Showtime, who was held up when exiting the far turn after she ran out of room while stuck on the rail.
Homehome took fifth over a weakened Bulletproof One and Warrior’s Moon. Completing the order of finish came Dim Lights, Speedy Gigi, and Florentine Diamond.
Smiling Shirlee’s win was her second straight following the aforementioned victory on March 6 and improved her overall record to 8-3-2-1. The Smiling Tiger filly has earned $239,220 to date in her career.
“We had the extra time off and she’d been training extremely well for this race,” Bonde said. “We were concerned with the rail, but Mike fit this filly like a glove, he really did. Like I say, she’d been training well and she rewarded us today.”
Smiling Shirlee returned $9.60 to win, $5 to place, and $3.40 to show. Bella Vita brought back $7.60 to place and $5.20 to show, while Been Studying Her paid $4 to show.