08/15/2002 11:00PM

Distance the question for invader


AUBURN, Wash. - California invader Erica's Smile adds a measure of intrigue - and a whole lot of speed - to Sunday's $100,000 Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

Erica's Smile, who takes on six locals in the nine-furlong Oaks, boasts an admirable record of three wins and three seconds from six starts, all in northern California for trainer Jeff Bonde. She is coming off a two-length victory in last month's Fairfield Stakes in Solano, leading throughout six furlongs in 1:09.07.

That, however, was the longest race of her career.

Bonde sent Erica's Smile, along with Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff candidate De Goddaughter and Longacres Mile hopeful San Nicolas, to local trainer Len Kasmerski a week ago. Kasmerski drilled Erica's Smile three furlongs in 35.80 seconds on Thursday morning and was impressed with the way she went.

"She's a very fast filly, that's for sure," he said. "The big question is whether she can go 1 1/8 miles."

While it is difficult for any horse to stretch out three furlongs in one race, Erica's Smile is bred for the task. Her sire, Williamstown, has a healthy average winning distance of 7.0 furlongs. Her dam, the Turkoman matron Purer Than Pure, won three routes and foaled Purely Cozzene, a multiple stakes winner going long on the grass.

Roberto Gonzalez is scheduled to fly in to ride Erica's Smile at 119 pounds, the weight to be carried by all contestants.

The local forces are headed by Lasting Code, who has won four stakes from five starts here this meet, including her last two outings, both at 1 1/16 miles.

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