Monday, November 24, 2008

Surprise finish in Bessarabian

TORONTO, November 23 - John Sikura's Smart Surprise outfinished Saskawea to take Sunday's $169,000 Bessarabian Stakes at Woodbine.

The seven-furlong tilt was the chestnut filly's first career added-money score in her first stakes attempt.

The exquisitely-bred daughter of Smart Strike held off a game try from multiple-stakes winner Saskawea for the half-length score, her third in her last three starts.

Arden Belle closed late to finish third.

Smart Surprise, who was bred in Kentucky, traveled seven furlongs in 1:22.14.

Winning jockey Robert Landry, who was riding the Josie Carroll trainee for the first time, said he had worked her in the morning.

"I give credit to Josie. She did a great job with this filly," he said. "I got lucky and the rail opened up. She fought a game race. She's got a lot of talent."

Smart Surprise traveled nicely in fifth on the backstretch. She angled towards the inside on the turn and began a serious assault on the leader Saskawea. By the eighth-pole, Smart Surprise was one length from the lead and gaining quickly, but Saskawea made her fight all the way to the wire for the victory.

Carroll said she wasn't concerned about asking the filly to handle a shorter distance than she had run in her most recent outing at 1 1/16 miles.

"I knew she had enough tactical speed," said Carroll. "I thought it might suit her as well, if not better. She's a nice filly to be around. I'm so fortunate. Mr. (John) Sikura sent me some wonderful horses."

Smart Surprise is out of Storm Bird mare Weekend Storm, who is a full sister to Summer Squall and a half-sister to A.P. Indy.

Now 3-for-14 lifetime, Smart Surprise returned $15.20, $6.70 and $5.40, combining with Saskawea ($6, $3.30) for a $98.60 exactor. Arden Belle ($4.60) rounded out a $687 triactor. Fourth-place finisher Pleasant Review completed a $1 superfecta worth $3,825.70.

Executive Flight was a late scratch.

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