12/15/2003 12:00AM

In Count Fleet, Smarty Jones could punch ticket to Arkansas

Email

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - John Servis saddled two stakes winners at Aqueduct last week, Stephan's Angel in the Mom's Command and Balmy in the Garland of Roses, and the trainer's work in New York isn't done yet. Servis plans on running Smarty Jones, a 2-year-old colt he is very high on, in the $75,000 Count Fleet Stakes on Jan. 3.

Smarty Jones, a son of Elusive Quality, won two races in November at Philadelphia Park. In his career debut on Nov. 9, Smarty Jones won a six-furlong maiden race by 7 3/4 lengths. Two weeks later, he won the Nursery Stakes by 15 lengths and covered seven furlongs in a snappy 1:21.00. Smarty Jones was assigned a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 for his Nursery win.

If Smarty Jones, a homebred owned by Someday Farm, runs as well as Servis thinks he will in the mile and 70-yard Count Fleet, Servis will take the horse to Oaklawn Park and point him to the meet's top 3-year-old stakes: the Southwest, Rebel, and Arkansas Derby.

"He's as nice a horse as I have had in a while, and I haven't stepped on the gas with him yet," said Servis, who is based at Philadelphia Park. "He was under wraps in the Nursery. The pedigree leaves you questioning his ability to get a distance, but he relaxes so kind. That's why I want to stretch him out in the Count Fleet before we go south with him."

If Smarty Jones goes to Oaklawn Park, he will be part of a division of 10 to 15 horses, including Stephan's Angel and Balmy, that Servis will bring to Arkansas.

Stephan's Angel, a 2-year-old filly who won Friday's $60,600 Mom's Command by 5 1/2 lengths, could make her next start in the $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes, a mile race at Fair Grounds on Jan. 25. The six-furlong Mom's Command was Stephan's Angel's first start for Servis and his longtime owner, Richard Porter, who races under Fox Hill Farm. Porter privately purchased Stephan's Angel after she won her first two starts at Laurel Park.

"I thought both her races were very, very impressive before we bought her," Servis said. "I really liked her second start. She came between horses and put herself in a good position. The [rider] had to ease her back and go outside, and she really took off. And I loved the way she ran at Aqueduct the other day."

Balmy, who won Saturday's Garland of Roses at odds of 25-1 for Servis and Porter, is a candidate for the sprint stakes program for older fillies and mares at Oaklawn Park.

Servis also plans on being active in Aqueduct stakes this winter with Pupil, who last ran third in the Grade 3 Next Move at Aqueduct on March 23. Pupil, a 4-year-old filly, was given a freshening after the Next Move, and when Servis was preparing her for a return to the races earlier this year, she contracted a form of herpes in one of her eyes.

Gators N Bears hopes it stays dry

Trainer Leo Nechamkin II hopes he isn't tempting fate when he run Gators N Bears in Sunday's $100,000 Gravesend Handicap. The two times that Gators N Bears ran at Aqueduct, it resulted in the worst performances of his career. He was eased in both the 2002 Huntington Stakes and the Bay Shore Stakes in April.

Gators N Bears, a 3-year-old, enters the Grade 3 Gravesend off a game third-place finish in the Grade 1 De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park on Nov. 15. In 12 starts this year, including nine stakes, he has finished in the top three in all but one race, the Bay Shore. In July, Gators N Bears became a graded stakes winner in the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park.

Nechamkin, who owns Gators N Bears in partnership with a couple of friends, said the colt was eased in the Huntington and Bay Shore because he jumped puddles and lost his action over the wet surface.

"After the Bay Shore, when I was driving back home over the Verrazano [Narrows] Bridge, I threw my trainer's license out the window," joked Nechamkin, who is based at Laurel Park. "One of my partners told me I was game to come back to New York. I told the van driver if it starts to rain this weekend on his way to New York, turn around and go home."

Gators N Bears now trains and races with a shadow roll, a piece of equipment attached to the bridle that diminishes his ability to spot things on the track. The 3-year-old worked a bullet half-mile in 48 seconds at Laurel on Monday. Rick Wilson, who will ride Gators N Bears in the Gravesend, was aboard for the work.

The other probables for the six-furlong Gravesend are Shake You Down, Papua, Peeping Tom, Presidential Affair, and Way to the Top. A few others are listed as questionable, including Crossing Point, Kazoo, and Super Fuse.