Pomeroy, Smokume Leads Vanderbilt Handicap Field

Pomeroy and Smokume will seek to continue their climb up the sprint division ladder when they lead a field of seven into the gate for Saturday's $200,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course.

Since coming back to the races as a 4-year-old, Smokume has shown dramatic improvement compared to his form last year. The son of Smoke Glacken has won 3-of-4 races this year, including his most recent victory in the Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II) over a sloppy track.

"We always thought he was a pretty good horse," said Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens. "There were a couple of times he didn't run well, but he's running well right now and we're hoping he continues in that direction."

Jockey Chantal Sutherland gets the mount aboard the highweight Smokume. The pair will break from post five carrying 118 pounds.

Pomeroy has finished no worse than second in three races at Saratoga. His only Saratoga victory came last year in the King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) on Travers Day. Instead of campaigning the colt against older sprinters in races like the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) and Aqueduct's Cigar Mile (gr. I), trainer Patrick Biancone decided to turn Pomeroy out until he was four.

"I wanted to give him more time to develop," Biancone said. "I thought it would be too much for him to run him against top-quality sprinters at that time. It was more of a vacation than anything else."

Since his return, Pomeroy faced perhaps his toughest opposition in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) with the return of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper and Carter (gr. I ) winner Forest Danger, who opted out of Vanderbilt with a pulled muscle.

Pomeroy ran an even race and finished fourth, beaten 11 1/4 lengths, to Ghostzapper, Silver Wagon and Whitney Handicap (gr. I) third-place finisher Sir Shackleton. But the son of Boundary came back to win an allowance race easily by 6 1/2 lengths at Monmouth Park.

"He faced really tough competition in the Met Mile and I thought he ran well against them," Biancone said. "I brought him back in the allowance race to regain his confidence and he seems to be moving forward."

Pomeroy, who will have jockey Eibar Coa, shares the second highweight of 117 pounds with Godolphin's Botanical and Summerplace Farm's Kelly's Landing.

Botanical, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, won a second-level allowance race at Belmont in his first North American start after finishing third to the late Saratoga County in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I).

Kelly's Landing, who will be reunited with Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Mike Smith, ships in from Kentucky for trainer Eddie Kenneally. The 4-year-old gelding scored a career-best effort in the Aristides Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs where he established a track record for six furlongs in 1:07 2/5.

The field for Saturday's $200,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. II) includes:
1-- Peeping Tom (Norberto Arroyo, 115)
2-- Botanical (Ramon Dominguez, 117)
3--Voodoo (Javier Castellano, 112)
4-- Pomeroy (Eibar Coa, 117)
5-- Smokume (Chantal Sutherland, 118)
6-- I'm the Tiger (Robby Albarado, 114)
7-- Kelly's Landing (Mike Smith, 117)