Age was no barrier to Smoke Glacken yesterday at Laurel Park.
In his first test against older horses, the nation's premier 3-year-old sprinter led from start to finish and won the eighth running of the Grade II, $300,000 De Francis Memorial Dash by 1 1/2 lengths.
The 2-5 favorite thus stamped another credential onto his claim for an Eclipse Award as Sprinter of the Year.
Withdrawn from Triple Crown consideration because he wasn't prepared for distance running, Smoke Glacken may now be pointed toward the Breeders' Cup sprint; he would have to be supplemented into the race.
Trainer Henry Carroll said the Maryland-bred colt probably will start next in the King's Bishop Stakes (a seven-furlong event) on Aug. 23 at Saratoga, then go in the Grade I Vosburgh (also at seven furlongs).
"I don't know about supplementing for the Breeders' Cup," said co-owner Bob Levy, chairman of Atlantic City Race Course. "We'll see how it goes."
In the second-richest dash in the country, Smoke Glacken obviously took another big step toward the goal of an Eclipse.
He broke quickly under jockey Craig Perret, set blistering fractions (22 and 44 4/5), stayed off a dull rail coming through the lane and was urged to the wire.
Wise Dusty, the local entry, launched a determined bid at the eighth pole, but Smoke Glacken was never seriously threatened. Capote Belle, one of two fillies in the seven-horse field, also closed and was beaten by a head for second.
The time of 1: 09 2/5 was relatively slow over a track rated fast. The track record held by Fighting Notion is 1: 08.
"Credit goes to Mr. Carroll," Perret said. "He planned this colt through good spots and had him ready."
Perret said Smoke Glacken "kind of relaxes" on the lead, "but if they had gotten close to him he'd have taken off again. Now, somebody is going to have their hands full the rest of the year with him."
"He's good," Levy said. "He's not Housebuster [winner of the second De Francis Dash], but he's good. I don't think anybody can catch him when he's in front in the stretch like that. I was confident when I saw him there."
Carroll instructed Perret to keep the horse off the rail from the five-sixteenths pole to the wire.
"I asked several trainers around here and they seemed to think you should stay in about the three path," he said.
Smoke Glacken has now won three in a row and has never lost at distances of less than a mile.
"I don't think he has a whole lot left to prove," Carroll said. "The last two were relatively easy races and now he has beaten older horses."
He won in wire-to-wire fashion in the Riva Ridge at Belmont and the Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup at Monmouth in preparation for the De Francis.
Carroll said there are no current plans to stretch out Smoke Glacken "because Two Punches [his sire] can't carry a mile and a quarter in a van. But he'll stretch out later on."
With $180,000 added to his bankroll, Smoke Glacken is nearing the $700,000 mark.
Wise Dusty, trained by Wayne Bailey, "ran his eyeballs out," according to jockey Oscar Mancilla.
"I thought because of the track [favoring the middle], I would get a good trip. I thought someone would run with that other horse. That would have helped me out. At the eighth pole, I thought I could get him. But he [Smoke Glacken] wouldn't let me go by him."
Wise Dusty ran 1: 08 4/5 in the Housebuster Handicap at Laurel last month and acquitted himself admirably in his first graded stakes outing.
Capote Belle was forced to remain inside Wise Dusty and it may have cost her second.
"We wanted to get to the outside, but I had to stay down on the rail," said jockey Robby Albarado. "I asked her to run just past the three-eighths pole, but Wise Dusty had already taken the outside position.
"She gave her all, but just couldn't get to the winner."
Smoke Glacken 2.80 2.40 2.10
Wise Dusty ....... 5.60 2.10
Capote Belle .......... 2.10
Exacta: 17.20. Triple: 59.60.
Pub Date: 7/20/97