Dogwood Stable's Smok'n Frolic, a 2-year-old daughter of first-crop sire Smoke Glacken, rallied from next-to-last to win the $111,500 Tempted Stakes (gr. III) Sunday on closing day of the Belmont Park meet. The victory marks the third win in eight starts this year for the Todd Pletcher trainee.
Smok'n Frolic raced just over two lengths behind pacesetter Cherokee Girl after the opening quarter-mile despite having just one horse beat. She moved ahead one spot in the subsequent quarter while dropping slightly farther off the lead. As the pace slowed in the third quarter of the race, Smok'n Frolic moved within a head of leading Saintly Action as that rival raced six furlongs in 1:11.97. From there it was all Smok'n Frolic, who scooted away to a 3 1/2 length lead at the stretch call en route to a 6 1/4-length victory. Smok'n Frolic, carrying 119 pounds including John Velazquez, covered the mile in 1:37.77 on the fast track to earn $66,900.
In her most recent race prior to the Tempted, Smok'n Frolic finished fifth in the Walmac International Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland while racing over seven furlongs and around two turns for the first time.
"She was very upset in her last race at Keeneland, bucking at the pony and throwing her head," said Velazquez. "She was completely relaxed today. I was very happy about that. She broke good, and when I asked her to run, she put her head down and responded."
The win marks her first since taking June's Fashion Stakes at Belmont Park, site of her maiden win and a runner-up finish in the Astoria.
"She likes Belmont Park, and cutting her back to one turn might have helped," said Pletcher. "The biggest factor is that at Keeneland, it is so difficult to win if you are not on the rail and she was five-wide the whole race. You just can't win in that situation at Keeneland."
Saintly Action finished second, followed by Wopping, Pieceofperfection, Cherokee Girl, Balmy, Rhythm Down Below, and Caller's Image.
The winner, who was bred in Florida by Cherokee Farms Inc., returned $6.10, $3.30, and $3. Saintly Action paid $3.60 and $2.80 and Wopping showed at $3.60. The exacta paid $20.40.
This filly has always acted like she wants to go long. I don't think a mile and an eighth will be any problem for her," Pletcher said. "The Demoiselle (gr. II) will be a logical spot. We worked her on the turf, and she handled it really well. There's not too many turf options left. The Miss Grillo comes up too quick."
Racing moves to Aqueduct on Wednesday. (Chart, Equibase