03/06/2013 3:32PM

Gulfstream Park: Jamaican Smoke returns from long layoff in Friday optional claimer

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Jamaican Smoke will make her first start since last summer in an optional claimer Friday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Jamaican Smoke, whose promising 3-year-old campaign was abruptly cut short after she was scratched the morning of the Grade 1 Prioress last summer at Saratoga, will finally return to action under optional-claiming conditions in Friday’s $57,500 feature at Gulfstream Park.

Jamaican Smoke was projected to be a major player in the Prioress, coming off a game second-place effort behind Emma’s Encore one month earlier in the Grade 3 Victory Ride. But what was termed a “minor issue” by trainer Eddie Kenneally forced Jamaican Smoke to not only bypass the Prioress but miss the remainder of her 3-year-old season.

Jamaican Smoke was given ample time off to recuperate at her owner’s Glencrest Farm before returning to training with Kenneally this winter.

“We gave her some time off, sent her to the farm, and she’s come back really good,” Kenneally said. “She’s worked extremely well for us at Palm Meadows, and I think we have her as fit as we can have her from workouts. I believe she is as good now as she was last year.”

Jamaican Smoke will reunite Friday with jockey Corey Lanerie who guided her to both of her victories last spring in Kentucky.

“She has a good post, has natural speed, and Corey knows her very well, so I’ll leave things up to him, although I expect her to be well positioned breaking from the outside,” Kenneally said. “I expect a good effort from her.”

Kenneally also will send out the late-running Oh Carole as a complement to the speedy Jamaican Smoke. Oh Carole will turn back to six furlongs after finishing a tiring fifth behind Ciao Bella in a well-graded one-mile optional-claiming race Feb. 18. She had finished second in both previous starts this meet, but remains winless since capturing her entry-level allowance condition here more than two years earlier.

Trainer Dale Romans will counter the Kenneally duo with a pair of his own, Molly Morgan and My Due Process.

Molly Morgan checked at the break before rallying to finish third, a half-length behind Oh Carole, in her 3-year-old finale Dec. 30. My Due Process returns to the main track after dueling into the stretch and coming home a tiring third in a five-furlong turf dash three weeks earlier.

Like Jamaican Smoke, Busted Again returns from a lengthy vacation, but she has worked steadily for her return at Tampa Bay Downs. Busted Again, who is trained by Jane Cibelli for Goodwood Racing LLC, won her maiden here last winter in a race switched from the turf to a sloppy main track. She has been idle since finishing fifth after stumbling at the start and then contesting the early pace last June in Monmouth Park’s Just Smashing overnight stakes.

Latin Rocks steps up off the claim after beating softer optional-claiming opposition by 7 1/4 lengths after setting a relatively slow pace Feb. 3. The outing was the first for Latin Rocks since July 16.