07/09/2011 8:41PM

Lone Star Park: Skip a Smile shines on Stars of Texas Day

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Reed Palmer Photography
Skip a Smile, under Luis Quinonez, rallies in deep stretch to overtake pacesetter Lydia's Last Step in the Assault.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The up-and-coming Skip a Smile indicated his intent to be a player in the region's handicap ranks on Saturday, when he closed fast for a half-length win over favorite Lydia's Last Step in the $75,000 Assault Stakes at Lone Star Park.

"He's a very exciting horse," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Skip a Smile for the horse's breeder, Rose Mary Chandler.

The Assault was one of four restricted stakes on the annual Stars of Texas Day program at Lone Star. The races were worth a cumulative $325,000.

Skip a Smile ($9.20) trailed in early, as Lydia's Last Step led the Texas-bred field into the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile race, after being clear through fractions of 24.40 seconds for the opening quarter, 49 seconds for the half-mile, and 1:13.65 for six furlongs. Skip a Smile put in a determined stretch bid under Luis Quinonez, covering the distance on a track rated fast in 1:45.52.

"He charged home nice today," said Asmussen.

Asmussen said he will be discussing next-race plans with Chandler, with one option being the $100,000 Governor's Cup at 1 1/8 miles at Remington Park on Aug. 20. Asmussen said part of the race's appeal is the distance. Skip a Smile won the $50,000 Richard King at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Sam Houston in January.

"There's a couple of nice spots out there," said Asmussen.

Chandler, who also bred runner-up Lydia's Last Step, was well pleased with the race from Skip a Smile.

"I would say it was probably one of his best," she said. "We're very happy with this."

Skip a Smile is a 4-year-old gelding by Skip Away. He has now won 4 of 13 starts.

Asmussen, Calhoun take 2-year-old races

Trainers Steve Asmussen and Bret Calhoun have now accounted for 15 of the 20 divisions of the $100,000 Texas Stallion Stakes for 2-year-olds at Lone Star after Miss Lederhosen gave Asmussen his sixth win in the fillies division and Sword Trick dominated the colts and geldings side for Calhoun.

Sword Trick ($3.60) drew out to an 8 1/2-length win after breaking sixth. He covered the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.55.

"He broke okay, but about three jumps he was in it real quick," said Cliff Berry, who was aboard Sword Trick. "He's fast. That's why he was there."

Sword Trick is now undefeated in two starts. He is a gelded son of Early Flyer, and he races for his breeder, Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Sword Trick won his career debut on May 7 at Lone Star.

The win in Lone Star's colts and geldings division of the TSS for 2-year-olds was Calhoun's fourth since the race was inaugurated in 2002. His other winners were Be a Resident in 2006, Gold Coyote in 2007, and Early Final in 2008.

Miss Lederhosen ($20.80) won her maiden in the fillies division, when she edged 3-5 favorite Nothinbettertodo on the wire in a tight photo.

"I wasn't sure, but I was pretty confident that she got up," said Gerard Melancon, who was aboard Miss Lederhosen.

Miss Lederhosen won by a head, covering 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.70.

"Her next major objective is the next Stallion Stakes," said Asmussen, referring to the Sept. 24 division at Retama Park.

Miss Lederhosen is a daughter of Valid Expectations who races for Littlebrother Farm. Asmussen's other winners in the fillies division have been Tiffany Jennifer (2002), Berdelia (2004), Valid Lilly (2007), Camille's Appeal (2009), and Fastation (2010).

Joy's Paradise wires Valor Farm

Joy's Paradise ($10.40) was prominent throughout to win the $50,000 Valor Farm by three-quarters of a length over She's a Bond Girl. The race was her first start since May, and she covered the six furlongs for Texas-bred fillies and mares in a sharp 1:10.64.

"When we had a clear lead I was feeling really good about it," said Karl Broberg, who trains Joy's Paradise for H.L. Southard. "[Southard] was kind enough to give us time to freshen the horse up, and I thought we were going to be tough in that spot."

Cliff Berry was aboard Joy's Paradise, who could run next at Evangeline Downs.

"I nominated for the Matron Stakes at Evangeline Downs, seven and a half on the grass, which is probably her preferred distance," said Broberg.

Joy's Paradise is a 4-year-old daughter of Taste of Paradise and the multiple stakes-winning mare Coastalota.