05/09/2006 11:00PM

Evangeline Downs track report

Harrah's Louisiana Downs
Watchem Smokey has scored all three of his stakes wins this year at Evangeline Downs.

Unlike the great John Henry, who won his first stakes race at the old Evangeline Downs before going on to bigger and better things, never to return to Louisiana, Watchem Smokey has proven this year that you can go home again.

Watchem Smokey's latest conquest came last Saturday night in, fittingly enough, the John Henry Stakes. Not only did he win, he shattered the track record by a full second. The John Henry was the third stakes win this year for Watchem Smokey, 6, all at Evangeline Downs.

An Oklahoma-bred son of Alphabet Soup, Watchem Smokey was purchased as a yearling in an Arkansas mixed sale in the spring of 2001 by Cecil Borel for $4,700. Borel campaigned Watchem Smokey through a 2-for-2 juvenile campaign at Louisiana Downs. As a 3-year-old, Watchem Smokey won his first two starts, both at Oaklawn Park, before taking an optional claiming event at Lone Star. Returning to Louisiana Downs, he then won the Airline Stakes, before Borel sold him privately to an owner for whom Bobby Frankel trains.

"We kind of lost track of him after he left Louisiana," said Carrol Castille, Watchem Smokey's present owner. "I know he went down in a nasty spill going down the hill at Santa Anita a couple of years ago, and then on Derby Day of last year he resurfaced at Churchill. We were looking to claim something to bring back here to run in some stakes, so I had Bernie Flint drop the claim in on him for the $100,000.

"You never know when you claim off Frankel, but we took a shot, and it has worked out great. He has performed phenomenally for us this year."

Brandon Marks now trains Watchem Smokey. Marks continues to win races at a high clip during the spring meet after enjoying a solid winter season. Castille said his plans for Watchem Smokey call for a possible trip to Lone Star, as well as a start at Louisiana Downs.