07/06/2004 11:00PM

Evangeline: Smilin Fine improvises


CARENCRO, La. - Smilin Fine's win last Saturday night in the $100,000 D.S. "Shine" Young Memorial Futurity did not exactly go as scripted, according to Smilin Fine's trainer, Troy Young, and rider, Gerard Melancon.

"He was sick after his trial," said Young. "I worked him with an old mare last week to keep him focused."

Melancon agreed, saying, "We weren't sure he was 100 percent until the workout at Louisiana Downs."

Smilin Fine worked four furlongs in 49.20 seconds over a sloppy Louisiana Downs track June 27.

The Young Memorial pace scenario did not develop as either Young or Melancon had envisioned. Smilin Fine rallied strongly from off the pace in winning his qualifying trial after a bit of a tardy break, but in Saturday night's final, he found himself closest to the favorite, Mr. Excellent.

"I had planned on being about fourth early on, depending on the speed, but found myself up close," said Melancon. "He broke sharp and was pumped up more tonight. At the sixteenth pole I was beginning to wonder if we were ever going to get to the leader."