08/30/2007 12:00AM

Gimme Credit returns from surgery


OCEANPORT, N.J. - The mystery of why Gimme Credit didn't fire in the Poker Handicap was solved quickly when a post-race examination revealed an entrapped epiglottis that cut off his air.

The problem was surgically corrected and trainer Tim Hills is looking forward to running the 4-year-old gelding Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Red Bank Stakes at Monmouth Park.

"He had a huge excuse in the Poker that was very fixable with minor surgery," Hills said. "He's trained very well since."

Gimme Credit faces seven rivals in the one-mile turf race. Saturday's card also includes the $100,000 Icecapade Stakes where top West Coast sprinter Smokey Stover will prep for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Expectations were high heading into the Grade 3 Poker on July 14 at Belmont Park following Gimme Credit's victory there in the Notoriety Stakes. He was 4-1 in the Poker and checked in seventh.

"He's got a lot of speed but he waits on horses," Hills said. "If there is pace, he really accelerates. We touted him in the Poker because he was facing the same kind of horses in the Notoriety. It was a bad news-good news situation. The bad news was that he had a problem. The good news was that it was fixable."

Eddie Castro will ride Gimme Credit.

Icy Atlantic, once the designated rabbit for English Channel, has emerged as a graded-stakes winner in his own right by developing a closing kick that carried him to victory in the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita in April. Joe Bravo will ride for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Completing the field are Amenable, Baron Von Tap, Jungle Fighter, Presious Passion, Shake the Bank, and Touched by Madness.

Smokey Stover tests track in stakes

Trainer Greg Gilchrist had an array of stakes options for Smokey Stover but one consideration trumped all others in selecting Monmouth's $100,000 Icecapade Stakes at six furlongs Saturday.

"This is where the Breeders' Cup is going to be," Gilchrist said. "We decided to come and give the horse a run over the racetrack."

Smokey Stover has emerged as one the nation's leading sprinters this year with victories in the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Sprint Handicap and the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Handicap at Santa Anita.

The 4-year-old suffered his lone loss in four starts this season last time out, a third in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap on a track labeled good at Calder on July 7.

"There was no major problem," Gilchrist said. "I'm not one for making excuses, but it rained that day for about an hour straight. The horse was doing so good. He broke really well but he just did not handle the racetrack. Reflecting back on it on the way home, I said we might have been lucky to even be third in the race."

Smokey Stover arrived here from Bay Meadows on Tuesday evening. He walked Wednesday and had his first gallop over the strip Thursday.

Gilchrist is confident the horse will adjust well in his first Monmouth visit.

"Of all the East Coast tracks that I've been to, this track seems the most comparable to the California tracks," Gilchrist said.

Aaron Gryder, once a member of the Monmouth jockey colony now based in California, has a return call on Smokey Stover.

Completing the field are Park Avenue Ball, last year's Iselin winner who returns after throat surgery; High Blitz; Cougar Cat; and Callmetony.