Watchem Smokey, ridden by Julie Krone for trainer Bobby Frankel, came from well off the pace to post a one-length victory over Our New Recruit in the $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes (gr. III) at Hollywood Park Thursday.
The 3-year-old gelded son of Alphabet Soup covered six furlongs in 1:08.99.The victory was the seventh in eight career starts for the Oklahoma-bred making his graded stakes debut.
"He's kind of an assuming little bay, but when he warmed up, he was full of himself," said Krone, who registered her first California graded win aboard Debonair Joe in the 2002 Underwood.
"I was thinking, he's going to run good. The race set up very nicely for him. I saved every bit of ground, then angled him out, and when Mike Smith's horse (Our New Recruit) started drifting out a little bit, it made him mad. It made him run faster. So I didn't do much. I just hand rode him the last seventy yards, he was so fun."
Watchem Smokey, the third choice in the field of six, paid $9.40, $4.40 and $5. The entry of Our New Recruit and Hasty Kris finished second and third respectively, good for mutuels of $3.40 and $3.60.
The 7-10 favorite Avanzado faded to fifth in the final furlong after dueling with Our New Recruit through early fractions of :21 4/5 and :44.
The payday of $60,000 for Watchem Smokey increased his earnings to $154,500.