05/17/2005 11:00PM

Charles Town track report


After 59 years as a trainer and more than 2,500 victories, including numerous stakes, Frank Smith Jr. figures it's time to retire.

Smith, 83, experienced some health problems while on a cruise last winter and hasn't started a horse this year. He saddled his last winner, Rush Straight, in a $2,500 claimer on April 17, 2003.

"I can't do the things I need to do and want to do," said Smith, who turned over his last few remaining horses to Tim Collins.

Smith's first winner, Conrad Mann, was ridden by Hall of Famer Ted Atkinson on June 2, 1946, at Havre de Grace Race Track in Maryland.

Smith spent most of his career at Charles Town, but it is a race at Penn National in the 1970's that remains one of his greatest feats. Jiva Coolit, the best horse Smith trained, ran six furlongs in 1:08.80 on May 22, 1977 - a track record that still stands.

Jiva Coolit, owned by Smith's wife of 52 years, Mildred "Babe" Smith, and Patricia Brown, won 39 races and $340,000 during his long career. Jiva Coolit recently died at age 33 in Virginia.

"He was the best and the most fun horse I had," Smith said. "I only paid $1,800 for him as a yearling."

Smith's other standouts included the filly Golden Gull, a winner on the first West Virginia Breeders' Classic program in 1987; A Fur Piece, a two-time winner of West Virginia Breeders' Classic races at 2 and 3; and Knickers Ina Twist, who won 20 races and provided Smith with his final stakes victory, in 1996, at Charles Town.

Smith also won the first Tri-State Futurity in 1962 with Remunerate and captured filly divisions of the futurity with Copperbarb and Platterland.

According to records maintained by Babe Smith, her husband won 2,550 races through 2003, the last year he saddled a winner. In his best season, 1976, Smith won 104 races.