06/19/2016 6:28PM

Cheekaboo connects at 23-1 in Honeymoon Stakes

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Benoit & Associates
Cheekabook, with Mike Smith aboard, edges Be Mine by a head in the Honeymoon.

ARCADIA, Calif. - With a furlong remaining in Sunday’s $201,380 Honeymoon Stakes at Santa Anita, Cheekaboo was sixth in a field of nine, trailing stretch leader Stays in Vegas by 3 1/4 lengths.

The situation was fine with jockey Mike Smith. Smith and trainer Peter Eurton had talked strategy before the race and their plan was going accordingly.

“He told me to save ground, go for broke, and see if you can get lucky,” Smith said.

Everything went Cheekaboo’s way late in the Grade 2 Honeymoon for 3-year-old fillies on turf. With a fierce rally, Cheekaboo took the lead in the last stride to score an upset win by a head over Be Mine. Stays In Vegas, the 3-1 favorite, finished third, a nose behind Be Mine.

Cheekaboo ($49.60) ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.86. As the wire loomed, Smith saw a gap between Be Mine and Stays In Vegas.

“I thought I had a shot,” he said. “I thought if I could get between those two I could get it. She ran awesome.”

The win gave Smith a sweep of the two graded stakes at Santa Anita over the weekend. He won Saturday’s Grade 2 Summertime Oaks on the undefeated champion Songbird.

Cheekaboo was the second-longest shot in a field of nine.

Decked Out, the winner of the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes in April, finished an unlucky fourth after altering course in the stretch. She was beaten a half-length. Lady Valeur was fifth, followed by How Unusual, Gone to Bali, Jeremy’s Legacy, and Where’s the D.

Cheekaboo races for Sharon Alesia, Mike Burns, and Joe Ciaglia. Eurton said Ciaglia convinced him to start Cheekaboo in the Honeymoon instead of an allowance race.

A California-bred by Unusual Heat, Cheekaboo has won 3 of 8 starts and earned $279,680. Cheekaboo won the Campanile Stakes for California-breds at Golden Gate Fields on May 1, and was third in the Melair Stakes on the main track here on May 28.

Eurton said the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks, a Grade 1 for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf on Aug. 20, is a goal for Cheekaboo.

The Honeymoon was the final turf race of the current season, which runs through July 10. The final three weeks of the meeting, beginning Thursday, will be run on dirt. Santa Anita is replacing its turf course this summer in advance of the autumn meeting which begins in late September and includes the Breeders’ Cup races on Nov. 4-5.