'Smoke' Derby role on line at Oaklawn

March 01, 1997|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The future course of Smoke Glacken -- toward the Kentucky Derby or the nation's top sprints -- may be determined today at Oaklawn Park.

The Maryland-bred son of Two Punch and Majesty's Crown attempts two turns for the first time in the $100,000 Southwest Stakes. The one-mile race in Hot Springs, Ark., may begin to answer the question: How far can the gray colt carry his speed?

"This race is pivotal for us," said Henry Carroll, his trainer. "To go to the next step, he's going to have to win handily. If he wins but horses are running over him at the end, we'll re-evaluate Louisville."

Louisville, of course, is the site of the May 3 Kentucky Derby. Its demanding 1 1/4 miles are beyond the reach of most horses. Carroll and the owners of Smoke Glacken believe he may be among that group. But they're giving the speedy colt every chance to prove them wrong.

He faces other promising 3-year-olds today, including Phantom On Tour, boasting a three-race win streak, and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained entry of Leestown and Trafalgar.

One of last year's top juveniles, Smoke Glacken has won six of eight races, including the Grade II Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park and the Grade I Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. In two starts this year, both at six furlongs, he is unbeaten, winning by 5 1/2 and 3 1/2 lengths.

Last year, he faded badly to fifth in his only race beyond seven furlongs. That was the one-mile Futurity Stakes around sprawling Belmont Park's one-turn course. Carroll attributes that discouraging performance to sore shins -- since eliminated by medical care and four months' rest.

Pub Date: 3/01/97

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