05/12/2005 11:00PM

'Cruiser' must battle familiar foe


CALGARY, Alberta - Smooth Cruiser may be able to exorcise some demons in Sunday's featured seventh race at Stampede Park, an optional $40,000 claimer at six furlongs which drew eight older horses.

The good news for the speedy 6-year-old Smooth Cruiser, a gelding who is 0-for-12 on this course, is that he drew the rail. The bad news is that he must face Hot Talk, a fast horse who cost Smooth Cruiser the win in his last start.

While Smooth Cruiser has yet to win here, he has posted five seconds, including two at this meeting, and was disqualified from second last May in the Stampede Park Sprint Championship after lugging out in deep stretch.

In his latest effort, two weeks ago, Smooth Cruiser made the lead, fought off the persistent challenge of Hot Talk to his outside through a rapid half of 45.20 seconds, and led inside the sixteenth pole only to yield to Topwynson in the final yards. The final time of 1:10.20 was one of the best of the meet for six furlongs, but that was no consolation for Smooth Cruiser's trainer, Bill Kinch, or rider, Desmond Bryan.

Smooth Cruiser and Hot Talk renew a rivalry that dates back to the Red Diamond Express last September. Hot Talk breaks from post 7 with Perry Winters up.

That battle with Hot Talk is one that Smooth Cruiser has shown he can win, but the real war will start turning for home with the capable closers Fussy's Kid and Winspear joining the action.