Smith held his ground along the rail aboard You Lift Me Up, refusing to give Garrett Gomez and Solar Miss running room until it was too late for the favorite as she came close, but failed to nail the front-runner on the wire.
You Lift Me Up, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, covered 1 1/8 miles on the Lakeside Turf Course in 1:50.09 while paying $19.20, $8.60 and $5.
Solar Miss, who stalked the leader throughout, was trapped behind her through most of the stretch run and settled for second money — just a nose in front of Fire n’ Brimstone and jockey Tyler Baze in third. Solar Miss paid $3.60 and $2.60, while the show payoff on Fire n’ Brimstone was $3.80.
"She tried to place herself a little closer today than she's used to,” Gomez said of the runner-up. “I just let her bounce away from there because there wasn't a whole lot of speed and I didn't want to get shuffled back. I had a great tracking spot behind the winner but we just couldn't get there."
The charge to the wire was dramatic as the first six finishers were only separated by about one length. Fourth-place finisher Miss Singhsix was beaten a nose for third money, Sensational Love a head for fourth and Mohaka a head for fifth.
You Lift Me Up, a California-bred daughter of Lord Carson, banked $54,600 to increase her earnings to $178,778. She won for the fifth time in 16 starts.
MIKE SMITH, YOU LIFT ME UP, Winner: "That's the way I thought I'd have to ride her. I figured I'd be on the lead and it was just a matter of me getting away with what I wanted to get away with, pulling the trigger and hoping I can hang on. She was just cruising down the backstretch, really breathing well and taking it all in. I knew I was going to have some horse but I thought the six (Solar Miss) would really come flying. I didn't see her on the outside and I thought this is great and all of the sudden she popped up on the inside."
GARRETT GOMEZ, SOLAR MISS, Second: "She tried to place herself a little closer today than she's used to. The first time I rode her she was really nervous in the post parade and I took it upon myself to take her back and see if I could teach her to relax. Today I just let her bounce away from there because there wasn't a whole lot of speed and I didn't want to get shuffled back. I had a great tracking spot behind the winner but we just couldn't get there."
DAN WARD (ASST. TO JERRY HOLLENDORFER), YOU LIFT ME UP, Winner: “After the three (Set Of Wings) scratched I thought we would get an easy lead. On form she’s better coming off the pace but you have to be able to react. He (Mike Smith) said, ‘I’m going to come out and see what happens.’ I don’t know what will be next.”