Smart N Classy Eatontown's Local Hope

(from Monmouth Park notes)
Smart N Classy, New Jersey breeder John Bowers Jr.'s successful fourth-generation mare, goes after her first graded stakes victory Sunday in the $150,000 Eatontown Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Monmouth Park turf.

John Tammaro III trains the the 5-year-old mare by Smart Strike-Teenage Queen, by Regal Classic, who finished seventh in her only other graded stakes attempt in the Violet Handicap (gr. IIIT) last October at the Meadowlands.

"That race came up very tough last year," Tammaro said. "And I think she's a better horse this year. She deserves another chance in graded stakes company."

Smart N Classy is part of a wide-open field of 11 entered for the 1 1/16-mile grass event. Two others were entered for the main track only. The Todd Pletcher-trained River Belle, fourth behind Intercontinental in the Jenny Wiley (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland April 17, is the top weight at 119 pounds, six more than Smart N Classy. The 4-year-old British-bred filly Spotlight, trained by Christophe Clement, is also expected to contend.

Tammaro is very familiar with Smart N Classy and her entire family. He trained her dam, Teenage Queen, and her dam, Waltzing Empress, and even her dam.

"Give all the credit to Mr. Bowers for his breeding program," Tammaro said. "He's developed a line of really good horses right here in New Jersey."

Bowers' breeding program gave Monmouth Park fans something to shout about in 2000, when the colt with the hard-to-say name of Thistyranthasclass won the Long Branch Stakes (gr. III) and made it into the $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I), where he finished fifth.

Smart N Classy has run twice at the meeting, finishing third in the Open Mind Handicap on the dirt and third last out in the Politely Stakes on the turf. She has always been better on the grass than the main track, as her turf record of 2-3-1 in 7 starts shows.

"She did not have a good trip in the Politely," Tammaro said. "It wasn't the rider's (Jose Velez Jr.) fault. She was in the outside post (9) and the horses bunched up in front of her, so she couldn't get a position near the rail. She was hung out very wide on both turns and still got beat less than two lengths. I thought she ran a great race given the circumstances. She came out of the race good, and she worked well last week (7 furlongs in 1:28). She's giving me every indication she's sitting on a good race."

$150,000 Eatontown Handicap (gr. IIIT), fillies & mares 3 & up, 1 1/6 miles (turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Emerald Earrings (KY), 115, Jose Lezcano
2. River Belle (GB), 119, Christopher P. DeCarlo
3. Lentil (ON), 114, Tom G. Turner
4. Dark Plume (MD), 109, Dale V. Beckner
5. Brunilda (ARG), 116, Charles C. Lopez
6. Spotlight (GB), 118, Joe Bravo
7. Fortunate Damsel (NY), 116, Stewart Elliott
8. Vallera (GER), 115, Ryan Fogelsonger
9. Smart N Classy (NJ), 113, Jose A. Velez, Jr.
10. With Affection (KY), 112, Aaron T. Gryder
11. Literacy (KY), 114, Elvis Trujillo
Main Track Only
12. Twist and Pop (FL), 115, Julian Pimentel
13. Freei (KY), 113, Christopher P. DeCarlo