01/30/2009 12:00AM

All Smiles rewards owners' patience

Email

The smiling faces gracing the winner's circle at Laurel Park on Jan. 24 were there to welcome the appropriately named 19-1 longshot All Smiles, who dug in to win the Nellie Morse Stakes by a neck over favorite Fascinatin' Rhythm. For Charles and Cynthia McGinnes, owners and breeders of the 6-year-old All Smiles, the victory helped make up for years of one hard knock after another with their newest stakes winner.

"She's been a hard-luck filly," said Cynthia McGinnes of All Smiles, a daughter of Awesome Again and granddaughter of one of the McGinneses' finest producers, Muffies Muffin.

All Smiles is the fourth foal out of stakes winner Cranberry Muffin, a homebred daughter of Shelter Half with an enviable sales record. The first three foals produced by Cranberry Muffin each sold for six figures as yearlings, topped by Two Punch Gal. That daughter of Two Punch was a $225,000 Keeneland September sales score.

Cranberry Muffin's first foal, a Wild Rush filly named Polo Ridge, was a $120,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales yearling who was then sold for $475,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida selected 2-year-olds in training sale at Calder.

All Smiles held tons of promise as she headed north to Saratoga's select yearling sale in 2004, but on the van ride from the McGinneses' Thornmar Farm in Chestertown to New York, the filly stepped on herself, slicing her foot. The injury was superficial, and she went through the ring, but failed to reach her reserve at $70,000.

Brought back home, All Smiles delayed her racing debut by injuring her back, which resulting in a hematoma when she was turned out in the field at the farm.

Unraced at 2, All Smiles quickly showed talent and determination in her debut at 3 in August 2006, rallying from far back to lose by a nose in a six-furlong maiden special at Laurel Park. But it wasn't long before she was once more on the shelf. After being slammed at the break in her third start, All Smiles suffered a fractured knee. It kept her on the sidelines for nearly a year.

"I can't say enough about [trainer] Frannie Campitelli," said Cynthia McGinnes.

Campitelli said after the Nellie Morse he "kind of babied All Smiles a little too much earlier in her career."

But McGinnes gives Campitelli a lot of credit for his patience. "The chance of All Smiles racing again was less than 50 percent. If she was babied too much, you can't blame him."

One of the most exasperating moments of All Smiles's career came a year ago, when she rallied to win the Maryland Racing Media Association Handicap by more than three lengths, only to be disqualified and placed second because she came out on favorite Cryptoquip in the stretch. Many observers, including the McGinneses, didn't believe the incident affected the outcome of the race.

"But the stewards can't consider that when determining a disqualification, since that rule is not in Maryland racing," said McGinnes.

That race was the closest All Smiles got to the winner's circle in her 10 starts before the Nellie Morse. The McGinneses also praises jockey Dale Beckner, riding All Smiles for the first time, in getting her first stakes score.

"We were really happy with Dale," said McGinnes. "He was able to follow Frannie's instructions."

The McGinneses still own a number of other members of Muffies Muffin's family, including Cranberry Muffin, who is due to foal in mid-February to the cover of English Channel, as well as Cranberry Muffin's half-sisters Almost Paradise (the dam of 2008 McGinnes-bred stakes winner Come Fly Away) and Crying in the Rain (the dam of Water Cannon). The beloved Muffies Muffin, who lived as a pensioner at Thornmar, was recently put down when her health deteriorated at the age of 27.

The McGinneses reacquired Polo Ridge, Cranberry Muffin's first foal, for $30,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company 2008 fall mixed sale last October. The mare is in foal to Strong Hope. And they still own Cranberry Muffin's current 3-year-old colt, Target Sighted (by Not for Love), who was cataloged to the 2007 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern fall yearling sale but gashed his leg in his paddock four days before the sale and was withdrawn.

Target Sighted, close to making his debut, is owned in partnership by longtime Thornmar client Philip J. Torsney and the retired Baltimore City Fire Department Battalion Chief Fran Clemens. Trained by Campitelli, Target Sighted will race in the name of Maltese Cross II.