Smokey Glacken Puts Speed to Astarita Test

(from Belmont report)
Undefeated in a pair of starts, the fleet-footed Smokey Glacken puts her unblemished record on the line in Sunday's $150,000 Astarita (gr. II) at Belmont Park. Nine 2-year-old fillies were entered in the 6 ½-furlong sprint.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens hadn't been particularly impressed with Smokey Glacken's training. That is, until she worked a half-mile from the starting gate at Saratoga in :47.

"I thought she was alright up until that work, said Jerkens, who won the 1999 Astarita with Silentlea. "She was sensational."

The following week, Smokey Glacken made her career debut in a Saratoga maiden special weight. Under jockey Jose Santos, Smokey Glacken quickly assumed command after the break, set a torrid pace of :21 3/5 and :45 3/5 and drew off to win by five lengths. Boot Strap, Highgate Park and Amazer attempted to outrun Smokey Glacken. It proved a futile task.

"She didn't get a big figure for it, but I've never been a big figure guy," Jerkens said. "I thought it was a hell of an impressive performance. When Jose asked her to go, she took off."

Smokey Glacken made her stakes debut four weeks later in Monmouth Park's six-furlong Forward Gal. Under jockey Jose Velez Jr., Smokey Glacken broke a step slowly, quickly made up ground between horses, dueled head and head with Amazer through splits of : 21 2/5 and :44 1/5, and drew off to win by 2 ½ lengths. Amazer finished a well-beaten third.

So, Smokey Glacken is quick and a worthy combatant in head-to-head pace battles. But on Sunday, this daughter of Forestry will have to carry her blazing speed 6 1/2 furlongs in the Astarita.

"It's a concern considering there's a lot of speed in the race, she's never been this far and she's hitting the least speed-favoring surface she's ever been on," Jerkens said. "But she's doing good. I've been real happy with her training. She's been able to shake clear. You don't know what's going to happen if something pulls up to her in mid-stretch, but I think she'll fight."

Smokey Glacken, who drew the rail under jockey Jose Santos, has never started at Belmont Park, but her older brother, Smoke Glacken, liked it here. Smoke Glacken won Belmont's Riva Ridge in 1997 and was later named sprint champion.

Lovethatlegend, one of the fastest Iowa-breds in training, makes her first start outside Prairie Meadows and her first for trainer Lisa Lewis in the Astarita. Lovethatlegend won three of four starts this summer at Prairie Meadows, including the Iowa Sorority, before she was sold to owner Peter Karches. The daughter of Gold Legend has been under Lewis' care for a month and has worked three times at Belmont.

"She's a big, strong filly," Lewis said. "I've watched all her races and she didn't look speed crazy."

Like the bulk of the Astarita field, Lovethatlegend has never started beyond six furlongs.

"You're always concerned when they're doing something they've never done," Lewis said. "She's very fast, but she doesn't need to be on the lead. I'll leave things up to Richie (Migliore)."

Spectacular Moon, undefeated in three career starts in Maryland, makes her way north for the Astarita. A daughter of Migrating Moon, Spectacular Moon was claimed out of her winning debut for $25,000 and claimed out of her second start for $40,000 by trainer John Alecci. Alecci saddled the filly to a high-priced optional claiming win over a sloppy track nearly four weeks ago. Spectacular Moon hasn't been tested for class, yet she's shown she can rate successfully. That looks like a good weapon considering the plethora of early speed in the race.

"I took a look at her the day she debuted," Alecci said. "She had an inside post and had dirt slapping her all over, and won. The race she's coming out of kind of fell apart because of the sloppy track, but I was happy she relaxed off the pace and she won real easy. She'll let horses go, but she's not going to be 15 lengths out of it. The horse we beat, Richetta, is supposed to be the best Maryland-bred two-year-old filly in training.

"She's done everything we've asked of her down here. The question is: is she good enough?"

Ana's Lady Bird steps up into stakes company off a dominating 9 ½-length entry-level allowance victory at Saratoga. She goes out for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Feline Story won the June 29 Astoria over this track, but has gone winless in three starts since. Trained by Stanley Hough, Feline Story was the beaten favorite in the Matron (gr. I) in her last start. She should appreciate the cutback to 6 ½ furlongs.

$150,000 Astarita (gr. II), 2-year-old fillies, 6 1/2 furlongs
1. Smokey Glacken, Jimmy Jerkens, Jose Santos, 117
2. Lovethatlegend, Lisa Lewis, Richard Migliore, 117
3. Ms. Trick or Treat, Kathleen DeMasi, John Velazquez, 117
4. Ana's Lady Bird, Steve Asmussen, Jerry Bailey, 117
5. Freeroll, Mark Hennig, Javier Castellano, 117
6. Feline Story, Stanley Hough, Edgar Prado, 120
7. Cosmic Wish, Alan Sobol, Alfredo Clemente, 117
8. Spectacular Moon , John Alecci, Jorge Chavez, 117
9. Forty Moves, Mark Hennig, Pablo Fragoso, 117