07/14/2012 8:41PM

Hollywood Park: Lady of Shamrock finds room on rail to win American Oaks

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Benoit & Associates
Jockey Mike Smith guides Lady of Shamrock to a 1 1/4-length win in the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The rail turned out to be Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith’s friend in Saturday’s $350,000 American Oaks at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Last month, Smith blamed himself for finishing second on Paynter in the Belmont Stakes. Paynter was beaten by Union Rags, who snuck through along the rail in the final sixteenth.

In the Grade 1 American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on turf, Smith rode favored Lady of Shamrock ($5) to a convincing 1 1/4-length win after saving ground throughout the 1 1/4 miles.

Lady of Shamrock was fifth in early stretch, and Smith kept her inside in the final furlong, sneaking past stretch leader Best Present Ever. My Gi Gi, winner of the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap against Lady of Shamrock on June 9, closed from fifth in the final furlong to finish second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Best Present Ever.

The late kick that Lady of Shamrock showed in the final furlong left Smith impressed.

“She was very explosive and used that to her advantage,” he said. “She’s really something.”

Trained by John Sadler for Kosta Hronis, Lady of Shamrock was timed in 2:03.19.

The American Oaks was the second of three stakes wins Saturday for Sadler, who won the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile earlier in the day with Scherer Magic and the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap for female sprinters with Switch.

Smith had Lady of Shamrock in seventh on the backstretch, racing on the rail about 3 1/2 lengths behind the European shipper Nayarra. A Group 1 winner in Italy last year, Nayarra set a slow early pace of 25.39 and 50.43 seconds. On the turn, Nayarra drifted off the rail, allowing Best Present Ever to challenge for the lead. Smith stayed behind Best Present Ever until the field of eight reached the stretch.

“The one European filly didn’t corner too well and that helped,” Smith said. “I was able to get up in there.”

Sadler said the distance left him hopeful that Smith would find running room.

“I thought over a mile and a quarter she’d eventually get a lane or a seam,” Sadler said. “I’m glad Mike didn’t alter the strategy in a paceless race.”

Miss Cato, another European import, finished fourth, followed by Stormy Lucy, Left a Message, Nayarra, and Colonial Flag. The 3-1 second choice, Colonial Flag raced wide throughout and faded through the stretch.

The runner-up finish by My Gi Gi was a relief to trainer Peter Eurton, who had concerns about the distance.

“I’m quite tickled,” Eurton said. “It was a great effort.”

Lady of Shamrock has won four stakes in her career. A filly by Scat Daddy, Lady of Shamrock has won 5 of 9 starts and $465,400. She won three turf stakes at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting earlier this year and was an unlucky second to My Gi Gi in the Honeymoon after a troubled trip.

Sadler said the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 18 is a late summer goal for Lady of Shamrock.