HALLANDALE, Fla. -- In case you got the idea that Pulpit is the only 3-year-old in the land, turn your attention today to the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. That gray blur streaking from the starting gate is Smoke Glacken.
He's a 3-year-old. He's faster than Pulpit.
Just how far Smoke Glacken can carry that speed is the question of today's $400,000 Louisiana Derby, a Grade III 1 1/16-mile prep for the Triple Crown races. Grindstone won last year, and then triumphed in the Kentucky Derby.
A Maryland-bred by Two Punch out of Majesty's Crown, Smoke Glacken is already perhaps the top 3-year-old sprinter in America. Whether he is Kentucky Derby or Preakness material is still open to debate.
"I think all those horses at the Fair Grounds are in that let's-see-what-happens mode -- mine included," said trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who saddles two in the race. "All those horses, including Smoke Glacken who has the distance question, are in the same boat: trying to find out if they're legitimate or not."
Smoke Glacken has won seven of nine starts, but never raced farther than one mile. His last race -- a powerful eight-length win two weeks ago in the one-mile Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park -- was his first around two turns.
But Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., features a short run from the turn to the finish line. That favors pacesetters. Conversely, the homestretch at the Fair Grounds is excruciatingly long.
"This track typically sets up for horses that run late," Henry Carroll said of the Fair Grounds, where he's spent the winter with Smoke Glacken. "It gives the one-run horse a straight quarter-mile to come after you."
Carroll said that Smoke Glacken's long, flowing stride is that of a distance horse, but that his pedigree is that of a sprinter. That is why Carroll, a part-owner of the horse, has mapped a schedule of increasingly longer races.
"He needs to show me he can go to the next step," Carroll said. "I don't believe in putting fences too high for him to jump."
The Louisiana Derby provides Smoke Glacken his sternest test since the Grade I Hopeful Stakes in August at Saratoga.
Lukas' entries are Open Forum and Trafalger. Lukas describes both as promising -- but yet to flash that promise.
Carroll said the toughest foes will be Cash Deposit, who finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and Crypto Star, a stretch-running terror. Their trainers apparently agree with Carroll about their horses' potential. They've hired top jockeys to ride their horses for the first time -- Julie Krone for Cash Deposit and Pat Day for Crypto Star.
The race will be televised on ESPN2 between 5 and 6 p.m., and then repeated on ESPN between midnight and 1 a.m.
The field, from the rail out, with horse, weight, jockey and odds:
Open Forum, 122, Barton, 4-1; Stop Watch, 118, Smith, 8-1; Celtic Warrior, 118, Torres, 20-1; Cash Deposit, 122, Krone, 9-2; Risen' Shine, 118, Bourque, 12-1; Tansit, 118, Velazquez, 6-1; Trafalger, 118, Martinez, 4-1; Smoke Glacken, 122, Perret, 9-5; Crypto Star, 118, Day, 5-1.
Dubai on simulcast here
All wagering sites in Maryland will simulcast the second annual Dubai World Cup and the supporting Dubai Duty Free races on March 29. From the port city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the Dubai World Cup is the race that made Cigar an international star.
Post time for the Dubai Duty Free is 10: 30 a.m. EST, and for the Dubai World Cup is 11: 15 a.m. EST. Post time for live racing at Laurel Park is 12: 35 p.m.
Also, the Dubai World Cup will be telecast on delayed basis by ESPN as part of its coverage of the Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway Park from 6 to 7 p.m. on March 29.
Richard Mandella plans on starting two of his top older stars in the $4 million Dubai World Cup: Siphon and Sandpit. Horses from around the world are expected, including Helissio, winner of the 1996 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and Singspiel, winner of the Japan Cup.
Laurel closes March 29
March 29 is closing day at Laurel Park. On March 30, Laurel and Pimlico will both be closed. On March 31, they'll offer simulcasts. On April 1, they'll be closed again. On Wednesday, April 2, live racing returns to Pimlico.
Highlights of Pimlico's spring meet, which runs through June 9, include the $200,000 Federico Tesio Stakes on April 19, the $600,000 Pimlico Special on May 10, the $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on May 16 and the $500,000 Preakness Stakes on May 17.
Marketing as solution
John B. Franzone, the newest member of the Maryland Racing Commission, says he believes that marketing and innovative management -- not slot machines -- are a solution to the state's racing woes.
Franzone, 40, was appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening to fill the term of Dr. Allan Levey, the former chairman who resigned last year. An owner of thoroughbreds since 1987, Franzone owns Fawn Industries, which makes plastic parts for cars.
"I support the governor's position on slots," Franzone said. "I don't think we've promoted the sport for what it is. It's a great sport."
He says occasional free admissions, coupons to bet, simplified betting and Dixieland bands might lure new fans. But once you lure them, he acknowledged, you've got to present them an attractive facility so they'll come back.
Where does the money for major track renovation come from?
"I feel for Joe De Francis there," Franzone said. "These tracks are big and old. But look at what happened with Camden Yards. As soon as the Orioles moved there, the games became an event, a social thing. Something's got to be done."
Sharp Cat likely for Derby
Lukas, the trainer who won the 1988 Kentucky Derby with the filly Winning Colors, said Friday at Gulfstream Park that he'll probably run Sharp Cat in this year's Derby.
"I don't know since Winning Colors if we've had a horse that's come through the spring as nice as she's getting it done," Lukas said. "She's getting heavier, bigger and more professional all the time."
He said Sharp Cat will run against the males for the first time April 5 in the Santa Anita Derby, the major West Coast prep for the Kentucky Derby.
The filly may be Lukas' best hope. His contingent of 3-year-old males, supposedly his deepest ever, has flopped so far.
"We've got a nice blend of depth," he said. "We're just looking for the cream to come to the top.
"I think we've been relegated to a lesser role this year, and that may not be the case. You'd better wait until a week before the Derby before you count us out."
Pub Date: 3/16/97