Irish Smoke did not have as much experience as most of the 2-year-old fillies in the $250,000 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 2, but what she lacked in class, she made up for with overwhelming closing speed.
Making only her second career start, Irish Smoke rallied from off the pace, took the lead at the eighth pole and sailed to an easy 3 1/4-length win on Saratoga’s main track.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and Lewis Lakin, Irish Smoke took her maiden debut at Saratoga Aug. 2 by 2 1/4 lengths. Although facing highly touted speedsters More Happy, Phantom Happy, Passion and A to the Croft, she still went off as the 6/5 betting favorite in the seven-furlong test, the first grade I event of the year for 2-year-olds.
More Happy, a $1-million purchase who was two-for-two, including a victory in the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II), set blazing fractions through the first half-mile, going out in :44.82. Right behind her for most of the way was Phantom Income, who had won her maiden debut by 10 1/4 lengths at Belmont in July. A little farther back were Passion and longshot Blitzing.
But those quick early fractions set up perfectly for the daughter of Smoke Glacken-Added Time, who saved ground early. Jockey Julien Leparoux smartly angled Irish Smoke out as they approached the turn, then rallied three-wide in the stretch. By mid-stretch she reeled in the leaders and won going away. A to the Croft was second, while Yonagucci rallied from the back to get third.
“This was the right way to go on holiday," said trainer Patrick Biancone. On Sept. 6 he is to begin serving his 15-day suspension for a bronchial dialator drug test-positive. “I am going to enjoy tonight and see how she comes out. She stands today to be one of the best fillies in the country. Hopefully, she takes this race well and then, maybe, she will run once more before the Breeders’ Cup.
“(Leparoux) rode a lovely ride the first time, in which she learned something. Today, she kicked home and she was beautiful. She’s a very talented horse.”
Irish Smoke, bred in Kentucky by Stoneway Farm, paid $4.50 to win, while the exacta (6-3) paid $21. The final time was 1:24.24.
More Happy finished fifth.