11/20/2009 1:00AM

Smart Surprise comes off the bench


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Smart Surprise came to trainer Josie Carroll here two summers ago as a maiden after 10 starts. But Smart Surprise proceeded to win three of her four outings here, including a jump from a first-level allowance to the $150,000 Bessarabian, the seven-furlong stakes for fillies and mares that she will attempt to capture again here Sunday.

"She's come a long way," said Carroll, who conditions Smart Surprise for Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings Inc.

Smart Surprise, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old, has added four stakes scores to her portfolio this year, beginning with the Chou Croute over 1 1/16 miles of sloppy going at the Fair Grounds. Back at Woodbine, Smart Surprise ended second in the six-furlong Whimsical and then won the 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie, the 1 1/16-mile Hill 'n' Dale and the 1 1/16-mile Ontario Matron before faltering to finish third in the 1 1/16-mile Belle Mahone on Aug. 15.

"She really didn't run her race," said Carroll. "She's a much better horse than the horse who showed up last time. We found no physical ailment - we just figured she was knocked out. She had a steady campaign right through the winter.""

A rest was prescribed, and Smart Surprise will be making her first start in more than three months in the Bessarabian.

"She just walked and grazed for 30 days until she got back acting like herself," said Carroll.

Patrick Husbands, who has ridden Smart Surprise in her last four starts, again will do the honors in the Bessarabian.

Carroll has a second Bessarabian entrant in Authenicat, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old who races for Vinery Stable and Fog City Stable. Authenicat had been entered in Keeneland's November breeding stock sale but was withdrawn with an eye toward continuing her racing career next year.

A restricted stakes winner in each of her three campaigns, Authenicat ended second last time in the 1 1/16-mile Classy 'n Smart for Ontario-sired fillies and mares.

"She'll get two turns, but it's not her preferred distance," said Carroll. "She'll like being back at seven furlongs."

Robert Landry, who has been aboard Authenicat for her last 12 local outings, retains the mount.

Serenading hitting the road

Serenading, another stakes-winning 5-year-old mare in the Carroll corral, breezed four furlongs in 48.60 under Husbands here Friday morning in preparation for Thursday's Grade 2, $150,000 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs.

A Kentucky-bred who races for Hill 'n' Dale and Glenn Sikura, Serenading recorded her most significant win in the $183,138 Maple Leaf over 1 1/4 miles here Nov. 7.

Carroll has trained Serenading through a career that has included two Woodbine stakes wins plus a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare at Keeneland.

Julian Leparoux will ride Serenading in the Falls City, which is a 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares.

Jones suspension back to 15 days

Jockey Jono Jones booked off his mounts for Friday and Saturday and will be out for the balance of the meeting after being assessed a suspension of 15 calendar days following an Ontario Racing Commission hearing on Wednesday.

Jones originally had faced a 15-day penalty after the stewards ruled that he ridden "in a careless and unsafe manner, placing a fellow rider in jeopardy" in the sixth race here May 27.

Apprentice rider Natasha Sihota was injured during the incident and went to the sidelines for the season.

Jones appealed the original suspension to the Thoroughbred Industry Appeal Board, which cut the penalty to seven days. The jockey appealed that decision and took his case to ORC head offices, which reimposed the original ban.

Joining the century club

Jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson and trainer Nick Gonzalez both reached 100-victory milestones here Thursday afternoon.

Wilson put together a natural hat trick, winning the sixth through eighth races with Zippy Lady ($13.50), Vegas Weekend ($6.90) and Scopin' U Out ($14.10) to bring her 2009 total to 101 victories.

Gonzalez sent out Bolt ($8) to win the fourth race and record his 100th victory of the season, with a meet-leading 61 at Fort Erie and the other 39 here.

Wilson, 28, now has passed the century mark in wins at Woodbine in each of her five full campaigns, with her high-water mark being 175 in 2005. Heading into Friday's program, Wilson was sitting in sixth place in the meet standings after topping the list in her first two campaigns and then finishing second and third.

"I'm always striving to do better and be at the top," said Wilson, who won an Eclipse Award as champion apprentice in 2005 and the corresponding Sovereign Award in both 2005 and 2006. "As of right now I'm at the lowest level I've been in the standings, but it's really not that bad."

Wilson took last winter off from riding horses.

"I worked out but I had a well-needed rest, both physically and mentally," said Wilson. "When you go hard all the time, sometimes you need that."

This winter, however, Wilson will be heading to Florida where she plans to mostly exercise horses, dividing her time between Payson Park and Palm Meadows.

"I'm looking to get a few races in down there, to stay fit and stay sharp," said Wilson. "I'd also be happy to bop onto a plane and head to New Orleans to ride a few horses I know for clients up there."

Gonzalez, 57, will finish the season as the top race-winner in Canada after eclipsing his previous best of 74 winners in 2005.

"Midway through the year, when we got on a roll at Fort Erie, I jokingly said we should set our sights on 100 wins," said Gonzalez. "When we started getting closer and closer and closer, I thought it was a goal we could reach."

Gonzalez is based at Fort Erie during that meeting while his wife, Martha, runs the show here. Both locales produced leading career totals for the outfit.

When the meeting winds up here the Gonzalezes will be heading to Florida, but do not plan to do any racing there.

"We bought a place in Ocala," said Gonzalez. "We have some yearlings there now, and we're going to send a couple more. We'll break some babies, and stay there all winter."

* The Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club will hold its final meeting of the season here Wednesday, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the third-floor Champions area.