07/16/2003 11:00PM

Former trainer proud of Spoken Fur


ELMONT, N.Y. - A few days before the June 28 Mother Goose Stakes, Austin Smith, the former trainer of Spoken Fur, was talking with Bobby Frankel, the new trainer of Spoken Fur.

"I talked to Bobby about Monday or Tuesday before the Mother Goose and I said, 'Is she eating good and is she happy?'" Smith said. "When he said yes, I knew she would win."

Win Spoken Fur did, galloping to a 5 1/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Mother Goose, her fourth consecutive victory and first in a stakes race.

Saturday, Spoken Fur will seek her fifth straight victory in the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont Park. If she wins that, she will be eligible for a $2 million bonus that will be paid if she can then win the Alabama at Saratoga on Aug. 16.

Frankel and owner John Amerman, who purchased Spoken Fur privately from Smith and an ownership group led by Smith's father, George, are reaping the rewards of the work Austin Smith did with Spoken Fur. A high-strung filly in her youth, Spoken Fur has realized her potential since learning how to relax.

Smith said he does not lament losing a filly of Spoken Fur's quality and will be rooting hard for her to be successful Saturday. Originally, Smith sent Spoken Fur to Frankel with the intention of running the filly for his father. But after one week, Frankel and Amerman purchased the filly privately.

"It was a tough decision to send her up there, but I knew that's where she needed to be," Smith said from Thistledown. "It was a slam-dunk situation. I'm happy for her. I love the filly; she caused me a lot of heartache as a 2-year-old because she had so many mental quirks, but she obviously got over all those. I hope she wins the race Saturday by as far as she won the other one."

Smith said he spent of most of Spoken Fur's 2-year-old season teaching her to relax. Spoken Fur debuted at Keeneland in October and despite acting up the paddock finished third behind eventual graded stakes winner My Boston Gal.

"When I had her at Keeneland she had a mind of her own," Smith said. "She just threw the biggest wing-ding; she got loose in the paddock three times."

Smith said he made a mistake running Spoken Fur at Calder in her second start because Calder is a difficult track at which to win without having trained or raced there. Spoken Fur ran two decent races at Gulfstream, but still returned to Kentucky in March as a maiden.

On April 6, Spoken Fur romped to a 6 1/4-length maiden victory and hasn't lost since. Her best race may have been her second-level allowance victory May 21 when she beat older horses.

"When she beat the older fillies and mares I thought she needed to go to New York," said Smith, who called bloodstock agent Mark Reid to see if Frankel would take the filly. "After a week they said they wanted to buy her. There's plenty left in the tank. It wasn't like I sent him meat with no bones."

Snow Dance drills toward Diana

Snow Dance, the upset winner of the New York Handicap, worked five furlongs in 1:00.48 over a firm Belmont turf course Thursday in preparation for her next start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana Handicap July 26 at Saratoga.

Jockey Richard Migliore was up for the move, the only turf workout of the morning.

"She went a little faster than we planned, but she did it easy," said Donna Ward, assistant trainer to her husband, John. "We figured we'd let her work here before we ship. Today was a perfect day and you never know what the weather is going to be up there. We know she likes that track."

Snow Dance is 2 for 3 over Saratoga turf, winning the 2001 Lake Placid Handicap as well as an allowance race that year, and finishing third, beaten one length, in last year's Diana.

Donna Ward said Grade 1 winner Forest Secrets, who has only raced once in the last year, will make her next start in the Grade 1 Go for Wand Handicap July 27. Forest Secrets injured an ankle while finishing fifth in last year's Go for Wand, in which she finished fifth.

In her only start since, Forest Secrets finished third, beaten 11 lengths in the seven-furlong Madison Stakes at Keeneland April 9.

Monday, Forest Secrets worked five furlongs in 1:01.69.

Saratoga entries taken Saturday

Entries for Wednesday's opening-day card at Saratoga will be taken Saturday. The 10-race card will include the Grade 2, $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes for juvenile fillies. Entries for Thursday's card will be taken Tuesday. Thereafter, Wednesday entries will be taken on Sunday and Thursday entries will be taken on Monday, as usual.

Sunray Spirit leads throughout feature

Sunray Spirit won for the first time since taking the Grade 3 Cowdin Stakes in 2001, recording a front-running 2 1/2-length victory in a six-furlong allowance race. Under Richard Migliore, Sunray Spirit assumed command soon after the start and put away an early pace challenge from 2002 Cowdin winner, Boston Bull, who faded to finish last.

Sunray Spirit ($3.80) covered the six furlongs in 1:09.17 and gave trainer Kiaran McLaughlin his 19th winner of the meet from 43 starters.

* Jockey Dale Whittaker will begin serving a seven-day careless riding suspension Monday. Whittaker was suspended for his ride aboard Regal Model in Wednesday's sixth race. Regal Model, who finished fourth, was placed last for interference in the stretch.