Hobeau Farm's Smokume, a four-time stakes winner in search of his first graded-stakes win, is among the leading contenders in the $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II) over seven furlongs at Belmont Park Sunday.Trainer Allen Jerkens will stick with rider Chantel Sutherland, a former two-time Sovereign Award winner as leading apprentice jockey in her native Canada who is having a tough Belmont Park meeting with two wins in 62 attempts. As a team, though, Sutherland and Smokume are 2-for-3."I get on him every morning and he's a very special horse," said Sutherland, 29, who added that Smokume can be hard to handle in the mornings. "We've been working with him trying to get him to relax and he's getting better at that every day."The 4-year-old gelding Smokeum was favored in the True North Breeders' Cup (gr. II) on Belmont Stakes day. He broke running and got hooked in a speed duel with winner Woke Up Dreaming, who returned to win the Smile Sprint (gr. II) at Calder last weekend. Sutherland and Smokume wound up fourth in the True North, beaten 3 ¾ lengths."He runs best when he can get a little breather in the middle of the race," said Sutherland. "He's not comfortable with horses pressing him from the outside."Among Smokume's six rivals in the Tom Fool are Voodoo and Willy o'the Valley, who made their last starts in the True North. Voodoo, sitting just off the pace, was able to rally for the place spot after three disappointing losses by double-digit lengths. Willy o'the Valley, who won the Maryland Breeders' Cup at Pimlico (gr. III) on Preakness Day, was farther back in the True North and never mounted a rally while finishing fifth.Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, who has been out of town leading the jockey standings at Arlington, is scheduled to return to New York to ride Klaravich Stables' Swingforthefences in the Tom Fool.
Last year's Iowa Derby winner Swingforthefences has returned strong in a pair of 2005 starts. The Boston Harbor colt rallied from off the pace to win his seasonal debut at Keeneland, and then missed by 1 ¾ lengths in a second-place finish to a sharp Gygistar in the Westchester Handicap (gr. III) May 4."He ran big going seven-eighths earlier in the year at Keeneland and made a huge middle move in the Westchester," trainer Richard Violette Jr. said. "We were thinking about running him in the Met Mile (gr. I), but he came up with a quarter crack. We had to take it easy on him for about three weeks to let it heal. I think he's right where he needs to be now."$150,000 Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II), 3 & up, 7 furlongs
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. Smokume, H. Allen Jerkens, Chantal Sutherland, 115
2. Swingforthefences, Richard Violette Jr., Shaun Bridgmohan, 114
3. Clever Electrician, Bruce Levine, Eibar Coa, 112
4. Shaniko, Todd Pletcher, Chris DeCarlo, 111
5. Willy o'the Valley, Juan Rodriguez, Cornelio Velasquez, 115
6. Voodoo, Jimmy Jerkens, Javier Castellano, 112
7. Gadace's Khamseh, Philip Aristone, Victor Molina, 113