Smoke Glacken took a giant stride toward the spring classics yesterday with an electrifying performance in the $100,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
The Maryland-bred gray colt won the one-mile race -- his first ever around two turns -- by eight lengths. None of the other seven 3-year-old in the race, including two trained by the Triple Crown master himself, D. Wayne Lukas, even challenged him.
The Southwest was a key race in the winter schedule of Smoke Glacken, a son of Two Punch and Majesty's Crown. The question has always been: How far can this speedball run?
"The horse doesn't look like a sprinter," said his trainer, Henry Carroll, after the race. "He is a long-striding colt with tremendous reach. I'm not saying he is going to run all day, but I thought the mile was well within his capacity."
Craig Perret, Smoke Glacken's jockey, was equally impressed. "He did this really professionally today," Perret said. "When I let him coast to a couple lengths in front, he relaxed and did exactly what I wanted him to from that point on.
"He did all the little things right today and seems right on target for the big races."
After saddling Smoke Glacken to Grade I and Grade II victories last year, Carroll plotted a progressively more taxing schedule in two races at six furlongs, yesterday's race at one mile, the 1 1/16-mile Louisiana Derby on March 16, the 1 1/8 -mile Blue Grass Stakes on April 12, and, finally, the 1 1/4 -mile Kentucky Derby on May 3.
Smoke Glacken's win in 1 minute, 38 3/5 seconds was his second straight on this muddy track in Hot Springs, Ark. He paid $3.20 to win.
John and Clayton Childs, twins who love horse racing, turned down $400,000 for In C C's Honor because, John said, "We love the horse. We went to race him."
Yesterday, the decision began paying off when the son of Allen's Prospect, the state's leading sire, won his first stakes race, leading the $55,650 1 1/16-mile Herat Stakes from start to finish at Laurel Park.
"We turned down $400,000 for this horse. Cash. Cash! Cash!!" said a jubilant John Childs in the winner's circle.
The offer followed In C C's Honor's first race, a six-furlong sprint Dec. 21 he won by a staggering 15 lengths. The Childs huddled with their trainer, Donald H. Barr, and decided to reject the offer and send the gelding back to the track.
With three victories and a second in five starts, In C C's Honor has earned the chance to prove himself worthy of a Triple Crown race. Barr said the flashy 3-year-old's next start may be the 1 1/16-mile Rushaway Stakes on March 29 at Turfway Park. The race is on the undercard of the $600,000 Jim Beam Stakes.
Why not the Jim Beam, a major prep for the Kentucky Derby?
"I'm not going to throw him to the wolves at the moment," Barr said. "We can't afford to tear this horse up for some race that's pie in the sky."
If the horse shows he belongs in the Derby or the Preakness Stakes, Barr said, he'll enter him. If not, the trainer said, the landscape is dotted with many other profitable races.
A definite on the calendar, Barr said, is the Grade III Federico Tesio Stakes on April 19 at Pimlico.
Yesterday, In C C's Honor bounded to the lead, pulled off by three lengths down the backstretch and then held off the charging Fearless Play for a half-length triumph.
Skip Away failed for the second time this year to find the winner's circle, finishing second yesterday in the $500,000 1 1/4 -mile Gulfstream Park Handicap in South Florida.
Mt. Sassafras, the Canadian-bred who finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, rallied from fifth and outran Skip Away down the stretch. Owned by Carolyn Hine, a Baltimore native, and trained by her husband, Sonny, Skip Away barely held off the closing Tejano Run, who finished third.
A winner by 2 1/4 lengths in 2 minutes, 2 2/5 seconds, Mt. Sassafras paid $23.80 win, The exacta with Skip Away returned $47.20, and the trifecta $130.60.
Last year's 3-year-old champion, Skip Away was the 2-5 favorite on the basis of his strong second-place finish three weeks ago in his seasonal debut, the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Mt. Sassafras finished sixth in the Donn.
"He's a funny kind of horse sometimes," said Barbara Minshall, who trains Mt. Sassafras. "If he's mishandled in the gate, like happened in the Donn, he can decide he's not going to try."
Pub Date: 3/02/97