05/14/2009 11:00PM

Smart and Fancy scores off layoff

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BALTIMORE - Eight months was not long enough for Smart and Fancy. Eight months and almost five furlongs, now that was just right. In her first start since October, Smart and Fancy needed the length of the stretch to wear down three dogged rivals and take the $50,000 The Very One Stakes for female turf sprinters on Friday at Pimlico.

Under jockey Ramon Dominguez, Smart and Fancy ($4.40) loomed menacingly three paths wide turning into the stretch. But after appearing to hang at midstretch, she dug in determinedly in the closing yards and just got up to beat Canadian Ballet, Ahvee's Destiny, and Sentebale in a thrilling four-horse photo finish.

Smart and Fancy, trained by Tony Dutrow for Park Avenue Racing Stable, covered five furlongs on firm turf in 56.76 seconds.

"She's got such a big heart," Dominguez said. "She keeps on trying. She loves to win."

The victory for Smart and Fancy, 6, was her 14th in 24 lifetime starts, and her sixth in eight turf sprints covering five furlongs. Dominguez thinks she is in for a big year.

"She was ready to run today, but she's going to improve off this performance," he said.

Smart and Fancy finished third as the favorite in this race last year, when wet weather forced it from the turf to the main track.