Courtesy of Santa Anita Park – Arcadia, CA (May 16, 2020) – Unhurried early from her rail post position, Smiling Shirlee, under confident handling from Mike Smith, came running late to overhaul a well meant Bella Vita in taking Saturday’s $150,000 Evening Jewel Stakes at Santa Anita.
Trained by Jeff Bonde, the 3-year-old daughter of Smiling Tiger got six furlongs in 1:10.49, which was .26 of a second slower than Big Sweep’s final clocking in the Evening Jewel’s counterpart, the Echo Eddie, run two races earlier.
Sponsored by the CTBA, the Evening Jewel is part of the lucrative Golden State Series for eligible California-bred or sired horses.
A one-mile state-bred allowance winner on March 6, Smiling Shirlee, who is owned by Edward Brown, Jr., Alan Klein and Phillip Lebherz, had been Cal-bred stakes-placed on three occasions and notched her first stakes victory today in her eighth career start.
“What a race she ran,” said Smith, who was aboard for the first time today. “I thought that if she ran back to her last race, 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.”
The second choice at 7-2 in a field of 10 sophomore fillies, Smiling Shirlee paid $9.60, $5.00 and $3.40.
“We had the extra time off and she’d been training extremely well for this race,” said Bonde. “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.”
Bred in California by Premier Thoroughbreds, LLC, Smiling Shirlee, who is out the Grand Slam mare Whobetterthanus, bagged $90,000 for the win, increasing her earnings to $239,220 and her overall mark to 8: 3-2-1.
Ridden by Umberto Rispoli, Bella Vita sat second around the turn, was three-deep at the top of the lane and finished second while besting Been Studying Her by one length. Off at 7-1, Bella Vita paid $7.60 and $5.20.
Off at 9-2 with Flavien Prat, Been Studying Her paid $4.00 while finishing 1 ¾ lengths in front of Warren’s Showtime, who had to wait for racing room turning for home.
Fractions on the race were 21.53, 45.08 and 57.88.