Grand Slam Smile Drops Jock In Paddock But Is All Business In Taking $200,000 Leigh Ann Howard California Cup Oaks
GRAND SLAM SMILE DROPS JOCK IN PADDOCK BUT IS ALL BUSINESS IN TAKING $200,000 LEIGH ANN HOWARD CALIFORNIA CUP OAKS GOING AWAY BY 2 ¼ LENGTHS
RACE IS PART OF THE LUCRATIVE CTBA-SPONSORED GOLDEN STATE SERIES
ARCADIA, CA (Jan. 13, 2024)—Owned by prominent California breeders Larry and Marriane Williams, Grand Slam Smile, in her first start going two turns and first assignment on grass, turned in a magnificent performance in taking Saturday’s $200,000 Leigh Ann Howard California Cup Oaks at Santa Anita, winning by 2 ¼ lengths while getting a flat mile on turf under regular rider Frank Alvarado in 1:36.59.
The Cal Cup Oaks is part of the lucrative CTBA-sponsored Golden State Series for registered California-bred or sired horses.
Trained by Steve Specht, Grand Slam Smile unseated Alvarado in the walk out of the paddock to the racetrack, but both horse and jockey were none the worse for wear when it counted. Breaking sharply from her outside post, she immediately engaged longshot Recalcitrant and Frankie Dettori into and around the first turn. Heading up the backside, Grand Slam Smile began to inch clear heading to the three furlong marker, but Recalcitrant was back on terms at the quarter pole.
Turning for home, it looked as though Asada Fries, three-deep under Juan Hernandez, had fresh legs and dead aim, but Grand Slam Smile was far from done and re-rallied for a huge victory.
Most recently a disappointing second going six furlongs on synthetic Tapeta versus open company in the Golden Gate Debutante Nov. 25, Grand Slam Smile was off nonetheless off as the 2-1 favorite among eight sophomore fillies and paid $6.20, $4.20 and $2.80.
By Smiling Tiger out of the Grand Slam mare Royal Grand Slam, Grand Slam Smile, a two-time stakes winner on dirt, picked up her biggest paycheck yet, with the winner’s share of $110,000 boosting her earnings to $329,900 from an overall race record of 6-4-2-0.
The narrow second choice at 2-1 with Juan Hernandez, Asada Fries paid $3.40 and $2.40 while finishing a half length better than deep closer Sushi Sticks.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Sushi Sticks was just up for third money by a nose over Prancingthruparis and paid $2.80 to show.
Fractions on the Oaks were 22.72, 47.00, 1:11.61 and 1:24.12.