Jockey Julie Krone continues to bat 1.000 in the $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes, a Grade III that was run for the 23rd time Thursday at Hollywood Park.
A year after scoring a shocking upset with Debonair Joe for her first graded stakes victory in California, Krone came back with a much smaller surprise Thursday, winning with 7-2 third choice Watchem Smokey.
Owned by Ed Gann and trained by Bobby Frankel, Watchem Smokey -- a 3-year-old gelded son of Alphabet Soup -- took advantage of a great trip behind a quick pace and was up to beat 3-1 second choice Our New Recruit by a length. The final time for the six furlongs was 1:08.93.
Purchased privately by Frankel for Gann at the recommendation of bloodstock agent Mark Reid, Watchem Smokey has yet to lose in seven races on the dirt. His lone loss came in his first race for his new connections when he was fourth over Santa Anita's hillside turf course on Oct. 3.
This was the first graded stakes win for the Oklahoma-bred, who had earned his previous victories at Louisiana Downs, Lone Star Park and Oaklawn Park.
Avanzado, the 7-10 favorite on the strength of his wire-to-wire score in last month's Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita, battled with Our New Recruit and Omega Code through rapid fractions (21.82 and 44.22) before retreating to fifth in the field of six. A winner of 10 of 27 races, the 6-year-old has finished off the board in both of his races at Hollywood Park.
Actor Joe Pesci, a life-long race fan, had a dream day at Hollywood Park.
Pesci, a 3-year-old Stormy Atlantic filly he owns in partnership with trainer Wesley Ward, won by 8 1/2 lengths in her racing debut. Ridden by Mike Smith, Pesci completed the six furlongs in 1:09.59 against five overmatched rivals in the second race.
"This is pretty high," Joe Pesci said. "I've been at the track my whole life. As a kid, I went to Monmouth Park in New Jersey. I used to go almost every day. I just love handicapping and watching the races."
Longshots Lead Story, who was 10-1, and Mayo On The Side, at 20-1, gave trainer Carl Nafzger a 1-2 sweep in the $334,200 Falls City Handicap over a sloppy surface at Churchill Downs.
Owned by A. Stevens Miles Jr. and ridden by Calvin Borel, Lead Story saved ground throughout, then rallied strongly into the stretch and went on to win by 6 1/2 lengths. She completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.23.
This was the second consecutive upset in a Grade II for Lead Story. On Nov. 8, the 4-year-old daughter of Editor's Note beat Awesome Humor by a half-length at 35-1 in the Churchill Downs Distaff Handicap.
Take Charge Lady, the 3-5 favorite, was fifth in what was probably her final career start.
Bossanova, the 8-5 favorite, went wire-to-wire in winning the $108,300 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct for owners Rod and Lorraine Rodriguez and trainer H. James Bond. Bossanova, carrying 128 pounds, covered six furlongs in 110.06.
Posse, the 2-5 favorite, rallied from last place through a driving rain to win the $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap, the opening-day feature at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. He ran six furlongs in 109.41.
Trained by Steve Asmussen for Vinery Stables and Bill Heiligbrodt, Posse -- a 3-year-old Silver Deputy colt -- won for the seventh time in 17 starts.