03/28/2015 2:23PM

Justalittlesmoke scores in Southern Park

Conrad Photo/Mahoning Valley Race Course
Justalittlesmoke, ridden by Terry Houghton, draws clear of Bold Cait by 1 3/4 lengths in the Southern Park for Ohio-bred 3-year-old fillies.

.Justalittlesmoke solidified her status as the top 3-year-old Ohio-bred filly by scoring her third consecutive victory in Saturday’s $75,000 Southern Park Stakes at Mahoning Valley Race Course.

In winning for the fourth time in seven starts, all in restricted company, Justalittlesmoke covered six furlongs on a track that played extremely quick in 1:10.69, nearly four seconds faster than in her win three weeks earlier. The winning time was just .54 of a second off the track record set on Feb. 28.

Bold Cait, the 5-2 second choice in a field of nine on the basis of back-to-back wins at Sam Houston and Mountaineer, made a three-wide move on the backstretch to take the lead into the stretch. Justalittlesmoke, ridden by Terry Houghton for trainer Bob Gorham, surged past Bold Cait, ridden by Tracy Hebert, inside the sixteenth pole and prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths. Dark Darling, a first-time starter, finished third at 19-1, 5 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up.

“She didn’t break as fast as I had hoped for, but we were able to work out a nice trip sitting just behind the leaders," Houghton said. "I swung her out on the turn and pressed the button and she gave me a burst and while Tracy’s horse dug in, we went by her pretty easy.”

It will be interesting to see whether Gorham points Justalittlesmoke to the $75,000 Austintown Filly Sprint, against open company, on April 18.