08/07/2010 1:16PM

Casablanca Smile lands in softer spot for Waya at Saratoga


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Shug McGaughey thought enough of the Chilean import Casablanca Smile to run her in a Grade 3 stakes in her North American debut off a 4 1/2-month layoff. Casablanca Smile’s solid third-place finish in the Grade 3 All Along at Colonial Downs on June 19 validated McGaughey’s opinion of the filly.

With that race under her belt and meeting seemingly easier opponents, Casablanca Smile looks poised to win Monday’s $70,000 Signature Stallions Waya Stakes at Saratoga. The Waya, run at 1 1/2 miles over the inner turf course, drew a field of eight.

Casablanca Smile went 5 for 12 in Chile, including a six-length victory in a 1 1/2-mile stakes race on turf. Owner Leo Liaskos of Green Hills Farm shipped her to McGaughey in the spring.

In the All Along, Casablanca Smile stalked the speed of Tizaqueena and fought gamely between horses to the wire, falling a length short of Shared Account and a nose shy of Dynaslew. She dead-heated for third with Tizaqueena.

“I think I learned a little bit about her,” McGaughey said. “She’s a little bit more one-paced coming off those mile-and-a-half races over there. I think the race will help her, she seems to have trained awful well since then.”

McGaughey said he will leave the riding tactics up to Julien Leparoux, who replaces Kent Desormeaux.

Desormeaux rides Changing Skies for Bill Mott, who has won two of the first four runnings of the Waya. Changing Skies won the Grade 3 The Very One at Gulfstream in February and has twice finished second to Lady Shakespeare in a pair of graded stakes at Keeneland and Belmont Park.

In the Bewitch, at Keeneland, Changing Skies set the pace. In the New York, at Belmont Park, she raced in midpack.

“She’s probably better with a target, most horses are,” Mott said. “The times she’s been on the lead have been because there’s been no speed. The biggest drawback of this spot is giving up a lot of weight.”

Both Changing Skies and Casablanca Smile have to carry 123 pounds, spotting their opponents five to seven pounds.

“It makes a difference at that distance,” Mott said.

Mott also will run Gold d’Oro, who comes off a front-running victory in a first-level allowance race at 1 1/4 miles at Belmont.