04/14/2004 12:00AM

Jere Smith Jr. to train for Saudis


Jere R. Smith Jr., who has trained in the Midwest since 1981, is leaving the United States on Saturday with a three-year contract to become the private trainer for the family of Prince Abdullah in Saudi Arabia.

Smith, 41, said he eventually will have 120 horses under his care in Riyadh, where the highest level of Saudi racing is conducted.

Smith, who has 705 winners in the U.S., has worked mostly in Kentucky in recent years after growing up and starting his training on the Chicago circuit, where his father, Jere R. Smith Sr., was a perennial leading trainer before his death in January. The elder Smith won over 3,000 races.

"I'm excited to go do this," said Smith. "I'm going to be dealing with a lot of nice horses. I always loved Chicago, but my dad cast a big shadow, and it's always been kind of hard to get away from that."