Owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, Her Smile has joined the barn of superstar trainer Todd Pletcher and is shipping to Churchill Downs to finish preparing for the May 6 running of the Kentucky Oaks. Pletcher already trains one Kentucky Oaks favorite in R Heat Lightning.
Her Smile won last year’s Donna Freyer Stakes at Parx Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park) and started her three year old campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Florida Oaks going 1 1/16 miles. She followed this up with a third place finish in the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and then the Comely Stakes at Aqueduct where she finished second in the Grade 3 stakes race.
Even with a famous owner in Bobby Flay of the Mesa Grill and countless other projects, Her Smile will be hard pressed to match the attention of stablemate R Heat Lightning who is a likely post time favorite for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. She looked dominant in winning her last two races, the Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks and the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes. John Velazquez will be in the saddle about R Heat Lightning for the race.
Pletcher has won the Kentucky Oaks twice with Ashado in 2004 and Rags to Riches in 200. He’s got a good shot at joining a very elite group of trainers with a winner in the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby in the same year. Pletcher has a pair of horses–Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty–slated to start the ‘Run for the Roses’. Only two trainers have won the Oaks and Derby in the same year. H.J. “Dick” Thompson won the 1933 Kentucky Oaks with Barn Swallow and the 1933 Kentucky Derby with Brokers Tip. Ben Jones did it twice: in 1949 with Wistful and Ponder, and in 1952 with Real Delight and Hill Gail.
Bob Baffert and Graham Motion also will have horses in both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. The Kentucky Oaks is considered one of the most important stakes races of the year for three year old fillies and is traditionally held on the Friday before the Kentucky Derby. The winner of the Oaks receives $500,000 and–unlike the Derby victor who receives the famous rose wreath–a garland of lilies.