04/13/2007 11:00PM

Boca Grande rebounds


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Jockey Mike Smith is leaving New York in hopes of jump-starting his career. On Saturday, one of his top mounts, Boca Grande, used a return to New York to rejuvenate hers.

Boca Grande, who won the Grade 2 Demoiselle over Aqueduct's main track last fall, rebounded from a disappointing 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream Park to record a 1 1/2-length victory in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Comely Stakes at Aqueduct. Winning Point, who broke poorly, rallied for second, one length over 8-5 favorite Perfect Forest.

The victory enabled Boca Grande to rebound from a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes last month at Gulfstream where she threw a shoe in the paddock.

On Saturday, Boca Grande stalked the pace-setting Perfect Forest through fractions of 23.75 and 47.29 seconds. Entering the far turn, Perfect Forest came out a little in front of Boca Grande. Smith was going to go inside of her, but Officer in Pursuit was there, so Smith had to steady slightly on Boca Grande.

Smith sent Boca Grande after Perfect Forest around the turn, crept up alongside that rival turning for home, and took the lead inside the eighth pole. Boca Grande covered the mile in 1:36.54 and returned $8 as the second choice.

"That was a really good race for a horse that's still trying to figure it all out," said Smith, who begins riding in Southern California on Wednesday. "She was in between [horses], backed up, went back in there again; she seems to like that though. Every time she's down there in tight she runs."

McGaughey said he would consider the May 4 Kentucky Oaks for Boca Grande, but may want to give her more time and could wait for the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on May 18.

Winning Point, who had gone 3 for 3 in Maryland, hopped at the start and stumbled twice early on in the Comely, but rallied well under Luis Garcia to be second.

"She couldn't stay quiet in the gate. That's why she broke like that," Garcia said. "If she broke sharp like she's always done, she'd have been right there."