04/03/2006 12:00AM

Eleanor Rose blooms into stakes winner


ALBANY, Calif. - Two new local stakes stars flashed on the scene over the weekend at Golden Gate Fields.

One was expected: Smokey Stover, who won the Stinson Beach overnight stakes on Sunday. One was unexpected: Eleanor Rose, who upset Somethinaboutlaura in Saturday's $100,000 .

Had Saturday's race stayed on the turf, Eleanor Rose's trainer, Steve Miyadi, was seriously considering scratching her and running her in Sunday's Half Moon Bay, a $40,000 overnight stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles. When the Work the Crowd came off the turf, the seemingly unbeatable Moscow Burning scratched, and Miyadi ran Eleanor Rose.

Jockey Martin Garcia may have misinterpreted Miyadi's instructions, but he certainly knew what to do when the gates opened. When no one else showed real interest in taking the lead, Garcia did and stole the race.

"He told me to take back, but I didn't take back," said Garcia. "She wanted to go, and then she relaxed and did everything well."

Miyadi said he encouraged Garcia to sit back if sprinter Just a Tizzy, who was making her route debut, went for the lead. He said Garcia did just the right thing the way the race played out.

Eleanor Rose was challenged around the quarter pole by odds-on Somethinaboutlaura, and both Miyadi and Garcia thought they were running for second. But Eleanor Rose never wavered, and runner-up Somethinaboutlaura seemed to run out of gas.

Miyadi formerly trained Somethinaboutlaura, and Garcia had recorded his first stakes victory aboard her in the Foster City at Bay Meadows. This came before she sold for $375,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale in February.

"I think I'm not going to beat her because she won so easy with me at Bay Meadows," Garcia said,

"There's no way my mare is as good as Somethinaboutlaura," Miyadi said, "but the inside was good . . . "

Smokey Stover made easy work of five rivals in the six-furlong Stinson Beach for 3-year-olds, winning by seven lengths under Russell Baze, who said Smokey Stover could have won by an additional 10 if he had really asked him.

Smokey Stover broke alertly for the first time in three career starts, and Baze's toughest task was to get Smokey Stover to allow Midwesterner the lead down the backstretch. Baze kept Smokey Stover behind Midwesterner early in the race. Smokey Stover had a head in front at the quarter pole and extended his margin in the run home.

Smokey Stover's trainer, Greg Gilchrist, was impressed by the effort but said, "He'll be a lot better around two turns."

Baze works his stars

Baze worked his two top mounts over the weekend.

Cause to Believe got his final work before a Tuesday departure for Hawthorne and Saturday's Illinois Derby, while Eclipse winner Lost in the Fog continued preparations for his targeted comeback later this month.

Working before Saturday's first race, Cause to Believe went a very easy five furlongs in 1:01.62 on a muddy track. While it was the slowest of three works just before the races - Classically Lit ran in 58.39 seconds and R Fat Man in 58.87 - Baze said the colt got just what he needed.

Cause to Believe, who is not a good work horse when not in company, finished with a 12.25-second final eighth-mile and galloped out six furlongs in 1:17.83.

Lost in the Fog worked Sunday, covering six furlongs in an easy 1:11.96 and galloping out in 1:27.68 over a track labeled good. Baze had planned to ask Lost in the Fog to finish a bit stronger but took it easy on him because of the muddy surface.

Gilchrist said Lost in the Fog would get a half-mile gate drill this weekend and then a five-furlong work in company before running in the Golden Gate Fields Sprint on April 22.

* Golden Gate's racing secretary, Sean Greely, said the Graded Stakes Committee informed him that the Golden Gate Handicap would regain its Grade 3 status for 2007. The race had to be switched from the turf to the main track this year, rendering it ungraded.

* Victorina, the talented 3-year-old filly who is a stablemate of Lost in the Fog and Smokey Stover, was coughing Sunday, leaving her status for Saturday's $100,000 Meafara at Hawthorne up in the air. Gilchrist said he would decide Tuesday morning whether Victorina would fly to Chicago with Cause to Believe that afternoon. He immediately had blood work conducted on her.

* Because of the heavy rain at the end of last week, track officials closed the main track to works on Monday in an effort to give it a break. It was scheduled to reopen Tuesday.