When last seen Chilean-bred Casablanca Smile was finishing second in the $100,000 La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIIT) in January. After 11 months off, the 5-year-old mare was back at Calder Casino & Race Course for the same race (VIDEO), and this time she wired the field in the 1 1/2-mile turf race.
With Javier Castellamno aboard for Shug McGaughey, Casablanca Smile got away with an uncontested lead and never looked back, completing the distance in 2:31.51 on the firm turf course to score by 1 1/2 lengths. It finished off a graded stakes double for Castellano on closing day at Calder Dec. 2, as the rider also won the Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) earlier in the day aboard Silver Medallion.
Casablanca Smile is owned by Green Hills Farm. The daughter of Ocean Terrace was bred by Haras El Sheik and is out of the Sadlers Congress mare Periza. Winner of the Chile Derby (Chi-I) in 2010, she was a two-time group I winner in her native land before coming to the United States last year.
The winner improved to 7-6-2 from 18 starts and upped her earnings to $385,962.
Sent off as the second choice in a field of 11, Casablanca Smile broke alertly from post 6 and led at every call. She was mildly pressed by favored Cheetah for most of the way, but had plenty left in the tank after running easy fractions of :51.63, 1:18.01, 1:44.20, and 2:08.22. She had a three-length lead at the top of the stretch and though Cheetah was still running well in the final furlong, never could put a scare into the winner.
Tesoro de Amor finished third at odds of 32-1.
In 2010 after coming into the barn of McGaughey, Casablanca Smile was graded stakes placed twice before winning the Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes at Keeneland by seven lengths in October. She was off until finishing second to Changing Skies in the Jan. 2 La Prevoyante. The race was run for a second time this year because Calder is closing its meet a month earlier than usual after a schedule change.
“She’s a very, very classy filly," McGaughey said. "Naturally, you’d be concerned going this distance off that kind of layoff, but I liked that three-quarters in 1:18. That certainly helped.
"I had her entered in a race in New York before we came down here, but she came up with a little foot problem and I had to scratch her. She got over that real quick. I thought she’d run good today, and if she got beat, it would simply be the layoff. I think her best distance is between a mile-and-a-quarter and a mile-and-a-half. I’ll talk to the owner about her future in the next week and we’ll map out a plan for her future.”
Casablanca Smile paid $7.60, $3.80, and $3.20. The exacta (6-10) returned $30.40 and the trifecta (6-10-9) was worth $462.40.