Susan and John Moore's favored Smokey Glacken assumed command soon after the start and glided to a two-length victory in the $109,000 Floral Park Handicap (gr. III) Saturday at Belmont Park, her first graded stakes win since November 2003.
The flashy 4-year-old filly staked a 1 1/2-length lead after a :22 opening quarter mile. She went a half-mile in :45 3/5 and completed the six-furlong event for fillies and mares in 1:10 1/5 on a good track with jockey John Velazquez aboard for trainer James Jerkens.
"I didn't want to change anything," Velazquez said. "I wanted to be on the lead, but I didn't want to rush her, either. Nobody else wanted (the lead) so I let her go. I sat against her, and she relaxed in front. After that, it was pretty easy."
The suspense was over early as Smokey Glacken, a daughter of Forestry
-Majesty's Crown (Magesterial), breaking from the outside in the small field of six, dueled with Molto Vita and Gilded Gold for the early lead and opened up a daylight advantage on the backstretch. Smokey Glacken pulled away from the second choice Molto Vita and Jerry Bailey coming off the turn.
Smokey Glacken was kept to her task through the lane by Velazquez as runner-up Areek, ridden by Javier Castellano, made steady progress to finish a clear second by 1 3/4 lengths. Baldomera, rallying late under Jorge Chavez, edged Lilah for third by a neck.
"Usually, when Johnny looks around like he did at the top of the stretch, he has something left," Jerkens said.
Smokey Glacken collected her first win at Belmont in four starts but her fifth in eight tries at the distance. She was coming off a half-length victory over optional claiming allowance rivals over six furlongs at Saratoga Aug. 14 following a two-month rest. Her last graded stakes win came in Aqueduct's Valley Storm (gr. IIIT) Nov. 23, 2003. Saturday's victory was her seventh in 13 career tries and increased her earnings to $392,660.
Jerkens said Smokey Glacken would likely try the First Flight (gr. II) at seven furlongs Oct. 30. She finished second in the race last year.
"I would like to try her on the turf at some point in her career. Forestry's seem to be getting over the grass well, and she burns her heels sometimes on the dirt."
The 8-5 choice, Smokey Glacken paid $5.20, $3.50, and $3. Areek, coming off back-to-back stakes wins at Monmouth Park, returned $4 and $2.90 while completing a $16.20 exacta. Baldomera, a Delaware shipper, was $5.50 to show.
Jayeff B Stables bred the winner in Kentucky. Smokey Glacken was a $150,000 Keeneland yearling buy in September 2002.
Molto Vita and Gilded Gold trailed. Travelator scratched.