Green Hills Farm’s Chilean-bred Casablanca Smile completed her 2010 campaign with a sparkling seven-length victory in the Oct. 24 Dowager Stakes at Keeneland and will be among the favorites in a field of 11 fillies and mares set to launch their 2011 seasons in the $100,000 La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIIT) Jan. 2 at Calder Casino & Race Course.
Jockey Javier Castellano was aboard for the Dowager victory and gets a return call for trainer Shug McGaughey in the race run over the same 1 1/2-mile distance on turf. The daughter of Ocean Terrace came to the U.S. from Chile in early 2010 and made three starts here before the Dowager, beginning with a close-up third in the All Along Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs in June. She also finished runner-up in both the 12-furlong Waya Stakes and 11-furlong Glens Falls Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga this past summer.
Casablanca Smile is listed as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.
The 5-2 favorite is Swettenham Stud’s 6-year-old Irish-bred Changing Skies with Kent Desormeaux aboard for trainer Bill Mott. The daughter of Sadler’s Wells won the Waya and finished a game second by a head in the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park on Oct. 2. In one start since, she finished fourth as the odds-on favorite in the 12-furlong Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct on Nov. 13.
The top locally based hope appears be Farnsworth Stables’ 5-year-old Speak Easy Gal with Elvis Trujillo named to ride for trainer Marty Wolfson. The daughter of West Acre proved she could handle the distance early last year at Gulfstream Park winning the 12-furlong Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) wire-to-wire and finished third last out behind Casablanca Smile in the Dowager.
Trainer Christophe Clement has won the La Prevoyante four times, including twice with Coretta, and has Castleton Lyons’ 5-year-old Tarrip in with a chance Sunday. The Kentucky homebred daughter of Green Desert finished third last out in the Long Island, but will have to take a step up to be competitive in this group.
$100,000 La Prevoyante Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 5, 2:05 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds 1. Dancing Rage (FL) , J L Alvarez, 113, M J Azpurua, 20/1
2. Liberally (IRE), R Maragh, 116, T Albertrani, 12/1
3. Tarrip (KY), J Bravo, 115, C Clement, 6/1
4. Sweet and Flawless (KY), J R Leparoux, 116, E R Reed, 8/1
5. The Niagara Queen (ON), L E Coa, 116, T A Pletcher, 20/1
6. Becky's Exchange (FL), P Lopez, 115, M Hartmann, 15/1
7. Casablanca Smile (CHI), J Castellano, 121, C R McGaughey III, 3/1
8. Bodua (ON), M R Cruz, 113, M J Doyle, 20/1
9. Academicienne (ON), J Lezcano, 114, K P McLaughlin, 20/1
10. Speak Easy Gal (FL), E Trujillo, 118, M D Wolfson, 4/1
11. Changing Skies (IRE), K J Desormeaux, 121, W I Mott, 5/2