Phipps Stable's favored Smuggler swept past her rivals Spun Sugar and Summerly to register an impressive victory in the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. IT) at Belmont Park Saturday.In her first attempt at the 1 1/4-mile classic distance, Smuggler, a bay daughter of Unbridled-Inside Information, proved more than adept for jockey Edgar Prado. She took the lead in mid-stretch and pulled away to an easy 3 1/2-length triumph in a time of 2:04 1/5 in the 3-year-old test for fillies."It worked out the way we planned it," said Prado. "I wanted to wait, and then when it was time to go, wait a little more." Summerly edged Spun Sugar for second by a head after setting tepid fractions (:25, :49 and 1:13 3/5) for Jerry Bailey. Spun Sugar, ridden by John Velazquez, was applying the pressure to Summerly throughout while Smuggler settled in comfortably in a stalking third-place position. But when roused coming off the turn by Prado, Smuggler responded readily and soared to the lead in efficient style."She (runs on) cruise control," Prado said, "but when she takes the lead she waits on horses a little bit; she thinks the race is over. I know if there is ever a horse coming she is going to have another gear."Shug McGaughey trains Smuggler, who edged Spun Sugar by a neck in the Mother Goose (gr. I) in her previous start June 25. She won for the fourth time in five tries at Belmont Park. Smuggler's only loss this year came in the Acorn (gr. I) June 4, when Round Pond defeated her by 1 1/2 lengths."I've got to give a little credit to Edgar," said McGaughey. "We had a little talk at the barn the other day. He said he was going to wait. She relaxed in behind those horses, then she just cruised to them. She does it so easy I'm kind of floored a little bit."Overall, Smuggler has five wins in seven starts with two seconds and nearly doubled her earnings to $634,600.Her next race is likely to be the Alabama (gr. I) on Aug. 20 at Saratoga.
"We have four weeks to the Alabama now," McGaughey said. "I feel like we are in pretty good shape. It is pretty exciting. We have been looking for a really nice horse for a while. It looks like we have one now."As the slight choice of the public, Smuggler paid $6.90, $3.30, and $2.20. Summerly returned $4.10 and $2.80 while completing a $25.20 exacta. Spun Sugar's show was $2.40.Bailey said Summerly gave her all. "She left it all on the track today," he said. "She probably doesn't want to run that far."For All We Know, undefeated in three starts, was sent off the second favorite in the field of seven but, after a stalking trip, she failed to rally in the stretch and finished fourth in her stakes debut, nearly 10 lengths behind the winner. Atlas Valley, Seeking the Ante, and Pleasant Chimes trailed.Bayou Breeze and Capitulation scratched earlier in the day. A tractor malfunction delayed the start of the race by approximately five minutes. (Chart, Equibase)