07/04/2011 6:29PM

Belmont Park: Her Smile takes Prioress

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Her Smile, with Javier Castellano riding, wins the Prioress.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Owner Bobby Flay and trainer Todd Pletcher hemmed and hawed for two days before ultimately deciding to run Her Smile in Monday's $250,000 Prioress Stakes at Belmont Park.

At 11 a.m. Monday, they finally agreed to give it a shot. Six hours later, Flay was rewarded with his first Grade 1 victory as an owner as Her Smile, taking advantage of a hotly contested pace, rallied powerfully along the rail in the stretch under Javier Castellano to win the Prioress by one-half length.

Pomeroy's Pistol, under Cornelio Velasquez, rallied to be second, 3 1/2 lengths clear of Alienation, the 8-5 favorite. It was a neck back to Quantum Miss and another neck to Roman Treasure, who burned each other out on the front end. Our Year was last.

Though Flay won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf with More Than Real last year, that was a Grade 2. The Prioress was his first Grade 1 victory.

Flay, on the advice of Thorograph's Jerry Brown, purchased Her Smile following the 3-year-old's runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Comely at Aqueduct in April. In two subsequent starts, Her Smile finished 11th in the Kentucky Oaks and third in the Acorn, beaten double-digit lengths both times.

Flay and Pletcher were considering next weekend's Delaware Oaks for Her Smile, but entered the Prioress to take a look. After examining the race and determining there was so much speed that it might set up for their filly, Flay and Pletcher decided to run.

"The reason why Todd wanted to go into this ultimately was because she was the only closer," Flay said. "The other horses were so incredibly fast up front. We were just hoping everybody did what they were supposed to do, and they did."

Roman Treasure, who stumbled badly at the start, and Quantum Miss went at each other through a quarter in 21.78 seconds and a half-mile in 44.55 with Alienation chasing from third. Alienation, under John Velazquez, poked a head in front at the eighth pole, but was unable to sustain her bid.

Her Smile, who was fifth down the backside, was full of run in the lane and dove to the inside under Castellano and easily outfinished Pomeroys Pistol, who rallied four wide in the stretch under Cornelio Velasquez.

Her Smile, a daughter of Include, covered the six furlongs in 1:09.44 and returned $16.20 as the second-longest shot in the field.

"Sometimes you analyze a race over and over again and you think it's supposed to set up exactly a certain way, and this one actually unfolded the way we hoped it would," Pletcher said. "We were talking 21 and 44 and change, we wanted to be back off the pace and make one run. We were able to save ground and come up the fence. It couldn't have worked out any better."

Her Smile will likely be pointed to the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga on Aug 6.