Smart Surprise rallied from off the pace, took over in mid-stretch and held off a late bid from Proud Heiress to win the $158,600 Hendrie Stakes (Can-III) (VIDEO) for older fillies and mares May 10 at Woodbine.
It was the first graded stakes for Smart Surprise, a 5-year-old mare who has resurrected her career after needing 11 tries to break her maiden. The daughter of Smart Strike is trained by Josie Carroll.
Under the handling of Patrick Husbands, Smart Surprise raced well off the pace in the early going of the 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie while Bear Lahaina led the field around in aggressive splits of :22.77 and :44.53. Verdana Bold, who was pressing the pace the whole way, took a narrow advantage coming off the turn.
But a host of rivals were making their bids at the top of the lane, including Smart Surprise, who was swinging six-wide with her challenge. The chestnut mare took over approaching the sixteenth-pole and was all out to hold off late-charging Proud Heiress by a neck.
The final time on the Polytrack was 1:16.01. Authenicat was two more lengths back in third.
Sent off as the betting choice in a field of nine, Smart Surprise paid $6.30, $3.40, and $2.70. The exacta (8-3) returned $44.70 and the trifecta (8-3-2) was $396.10.
Smart Surprise won for the second time in four starts this year. She opened her campaign with a dominating 6 1/4-length score in the Chou Croute Handicap at Fair Grounds Feb. 14 and most recently, was runner-up to Dancing Allstar in the six-furlong Whimsical (Can-III) April 18. Dancing Allstar finished fourth in the Hendrie.
Though she took two years to break her maiden, Smart Surprise showed up every time she raced, finishing in the money in all 10 of those defeats, including six times a runner-up.
"I made a little bit of an error," Carroll said. "I didn't have her quite sharp enough, shortening up from a route to a sprint. You do have to think about it a little bit when you change distances. She's a very honest filly. You ask her to run and she shows up."
Owned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Smart Surprise is out of the Storm Bird mare Weekend Storm. She was bred in Kentucky by Will Farish and Kilroy Thoroughbred Partnership.
Smart Surprise is now 5-8-4 from 18 starts with earnings of $346,784.