Smitty's Sunshine Shines in Pent Up Kiss

(from Churchill Downs report)
Smitty's Sunshine, with Robby Albarado aboard, pulled clear following a three-way duel for the early lead and then held off a late charge by Beautiful Bets for a three-quarter length victory in Sunday's $116,400 Pent Up Kiss Stakes for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs.

Winning for the third time this year, the Louisiana-bred Smitty's Sunshine sped the five furlongs on "firm" turf in :57.94 and paid $16, $8.40 and $4.60. Beautiful Bets, ridden by Willie Martinez, rallied from fifth in the turn to take second and paid $9 and $4.20. Nicole's Dream, the 8-5 favorite in the field of eight, raced in second place until deep stretch when she tired to finish another neck back and paid $3.40.

Owned by Roger Smith and trained by Morris Nicks, Smitty's Sunshine collected the biggest payday of her career as she earned $70,005 to push her lifetime earnings to $124,253. A 3-year-old daughter of Seeking a Home, Smitty's Sunshine was unraced as a 2-year-old, but has compiled a record of 3-1-1 from seven starts this season. She notched her second stakes win in the Pent Up Kiss with Albarado riding her for the first time.

Albarado sent Smitty's Sunshine to the rail soon after the start and battled for the early lead with Victory Spy and Nicole's Dream, who was three-wide after breaking from post seven. Smitty's Sunshine saved ground along the inside to open a 1 ½-length margin over Nicole's Dream at the top of the stretch. Beautiful Bets was placed wide for the rally into the stretch and closed determinedly to get by Nicole's Dream in the final strides by a neck, but was no threat to catch the hard-ridden Smitty's Sunshine.

The stakes win was the second at Churchill Downs for Nicks, who collected the 1999 Aristides Handicap (gr. III) with Run Johnny.

The 6-year-old Nicole's Dream made her final career start. The daughter of Northern Trend won 24 of 53 races and earned $826,454 for trainer Larry Rivelli.

Victory Spy finished fourth, followed by Bucky's Prayer, More Than Pretty; Lady Wrangler and Golden Voice. The field was reduced to eight fillies and mares with the late scratch of Winged Wishes.

(Chart, Equibase)