Favored Changing Skies pounced on Casablanca Smile in the stretch and proved a handy 3 3/4-length winner of the $100,000 La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the turf at Calder Casino and Race Course Jan. 2 (VIDEO).
Ridden by Kent Desormeaux for trainer Bill Mott, Swettenham Stud's homebred 6-year-old mare rebounded from a fourth-place finish in Aqueduct's Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) Nov. 13 when she was sent off as the 3-5 favorite.
Changing Skies appreciated some cut in the ground on Calder's dormant turf course, completing the 1 1/2-mile assignment in 2:27.91 over "good" ground.
Winner of the 11-furlong The Very One Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park in February, Changing Skies recorded her second graded win since transferring to the United States in the summer of 2009. The Irish-bred daughter of Sadler's Wells--Magnificent Style, by Silver Hawk, ran second by a head to Ave in the 10-furlong Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) over a yielding Belmont Park turf course prior to her disappointing effort in the Long Island.
In spite of the condition of the turf course, there was just one scratch (Sweet and Flawless), reducing the field to 10 older fillies and mares.
Breaking from the far outside under co-high weight of 121 pounds, Changing Skies chased a surprisingly quick pace set by Speak Easy Gal (:23.58, :47.97, 1:12.82 and 1:37.91).
Eighth early, Changing Skies advanced into contention on the outside of rivals rounding the final bend. When the stalking Casablanca Smile made her move to snatch the lead near the quarter pole, Changing Skies dug in as well to take control in the lane after a brief skirmish. Changing Skies left the Chilean-bred Casablanca Smile behind from mid-stretch to win smartly.
“They left there running the first part of it and went the early fractions kind of quick," Desormeaux said. "I didn’t want to get caught up in that so I let my mare settle back and she responded exactly the way I needed her to. She put us in the race when I asked her and then I just took a clear outside path and she showed them who was the best in the stretch.”
Casablanca Smile, a seven-length winner of Keeneland's 12-furlong Dowager Stakes in her most recent start Oct. 24, finished a clear second by 1 1/4 lengths under Javier Castellano. Tarrip, with Joe Bravo up, threatened along the hedge entering the stretch and held third over Liberally by more than four lengths.
A winner once in nine starts in Europe, it has been a different story for Changing Skies on American turf courses, where she has four victories and four seconds in nine tries. The victory in the La Prevoyante, worth $58,900, boosted the bay mare's career bankroll to $435,949.
“I think her last race left Bill kind of scratching his head and couldn’t give her an excuse," said Ken McCarthy, assistant to Mott. "But they got her down to Payson Park after that and obviously ran like she can today.”
Sent off at odds of 6-5, Changing Skies paid $4.40, $2.80 and $2.20 while topping a $10.40 exacta. Second choice Casablanca Smile, who also shouldered 121 pounds, returned $2.80 and $2.40. Tarrip, who also ran third in the Long Island for trainer Christophe Clement, was $4 to show.
Liberally was followed by Speak Easy Gal, Dancing Rage, Becky's Exchange, Bodua, The Niagara Queen and Academicienne.