From the NYRA Media Team:

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Darlene Bilinski and Steven Rocco’s New York-bred Smokie Eyes will return to the scene of her last-out maiden victory and look to notch her first stakes win in Friday’s $120,000 Chelsey Flower, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for juvenile fillies, at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet. 

Trained by Christophe Clement, who will look to secure a record-equaling fourth win in this event, Smokie Eyes was a convincing 3 1/2-length winner over 11 rivals in an October 8 state-bred maiden special weight going the Chelsey Flower distance over the outer turf at the Big A. Piloted to victory by Manny Franco, the daughter of Nyquist led each step of the way while facing pressure from two rivals before shaking them off at the stretch call and drawing away to graduate at third asking. 

“She’s doing well,” said Clement, who previously won the Chelsey Flower with Miss Chatelaine [2014], Raucous [2017] and Speaktomeofsummer [2019]. “It’s a bit ambitious because I’m runner her back quick, but the filly is doing good. She’s sound, she’s training forwardly, and this is the right time of the year to be ambitious.” 

Smokie Eyes’ victory came after two close runner-up efforts in stalking fashion going the same distance, coming up 1 1/2 lengths shy in her August 3 debut at Saratoga Race Course and defeated just a neck at second asking on September 15 at the Big A. 

Clement expressed confidence in his filly after hitting the board in each of her three lifetime outings. 

“She’s a New York-bred and we’re bringing her back in open company, so it’s a much tougher race on paper,” said Clement. “But we don’t have any restricted stakes coming up, so we’ll try to get her black type.”

Clement said the change in tactics was simply how the race played out. 

“I always tell the jockey to be comfortable and that’s where the filly took him,” said Clement. “Be wherever she’s comfortable, don’t make it too complicated.” 

Bred in the Empire State by Kathleen Schweizer and Daniel Burke, Smokie Eyes was a $160,000 purchase at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-Bred Yearling Sale. 

Dylan Davis is tasked with the ride from post 6. 

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will send out a formidable duo in Klaravich Stables’ Tax Implications [post 1, Manny Franco] and Bradley Thoroughbreds, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Cambron Equine and Laura Leigh Stable’s Implicated [post 2, Flavien Prat]. Brown, who holds the record for most wins in this event with four, previously earned wins with Ava’s Kitten [2015], Create a Dream [2016], Seek and Destroy [2018] and Ingrassia [2020]. 

Tax Implications, an English-bred daughter of Mehmas, was an impressive winner on debut in a September 11 maiden special weight at Monmouth Park, closing from fourth-of-11 to score an easy 6 3/4-length victory in the one-mile turf route. The effort garnered a field-best 76 Beyer Speed Figure. Tax Implications, who was purchased for just over $356,000 at last year’s Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, has worked twice over the Belmont dirt training track since, most recently posting a half-mile in 49.42 seconds Saturday. 

Implicated, a Connect gray, scored a gutsy maiden win at second asking last out going the Chelsey Flower distance on September 23 at the Big A, nailing Mademoisellejackie by a head after closing from 7 1/2 lengths back and displaying an impressive turn of foot down the lane. The effort came after finishing third on debut in a six-furlong main track sprint on August 17 at Saratoga in similar closing fashion to be defeated 14 lengths. 

Trainer Kelly Breen will send out the well-bred The Classy One on the heels of a fifth-place finish in the off-the-turf Selima on October 1 at Laurel Park in what was her first outing against winners. A New Jersey homebred for Roseland Farm Stable, the Temple City dark bay broke a step slow and rallied from 13 lengths off the pace in the Selima under Sheldon Russell, but could only manage to improve to fifth position after going five-wide in the final quarter-mile of the one-mile route. 

The Classy One was a winner on debut in a state-bred six-furlong sprint on September 11 at Monmouth Park, dueling with Fixed Odds for the first half-mile before pulling away in the turn and cruising home to a comfortable 4 1/2-length score. 

Out of the Grade 3-winning Smart Strike mare Smart N Classy, The Classy One is a full-sister to multiple graded stakes-winner Valedictorian, and is a half-sister to stakes-winners He’spuregold and Stay Smart, all trained by Breen. 

Jose Ortiz has the call from post 3. 

Completing the field are The Elkstone Group’s maiden winner Lifelovenlaughter [post 4, Trevor McCarthy] for trainer Michael Trombetta and Yuri Pascarella, Carl Pascarella and Herringswell Racing Club’s well-traveled Grand Oak [post 5, John Velazquez] for conditioner Graham Motion. Rosie’s Alibi, Binsky and La Vita Sofia are entered for the main track only. 

The Chelsey Flower is slated as Race 8 on Friday’s nine-race program. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.

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