Updated on 09/17/2011 12:51PM

Jerkens has shot to repeat


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The words "Kentucky Derby" will flow freely from the mouths of many racing fans Saturday at Gulfstream Park, but they won't be referring to a race designed as a stepping-stone to the Derby trail.

Instead, they will be referring to Funny Cide, the 2003 Derby winner, who showed up in the entry box for a seven-furlong allowance. The news of his emergence instantly overshadowed the , a six-furlong race that typically attracts 3-year-olds on the fringe of Derby consideration. The Spectacular Bid was supposed to be the featured event on an 11-race Saturday card, but, because of Funny Cide's popularity, it was bumped from the race-10 feature slot to a supporting role, race 8.

Not that Allen Jerkens, or any of the other six trainers with horses in the $100,000 Spectacular Bid, much cares when the race is run. Jerkens, who won the Spectacular Bid last year with First Blush, has one of the favorites in the Grade 3 race in Smokume. A Smoke Glacken gelding, Smokume began his career with three straight wins, including the Cowdin Stakes in October, before incurring his first defeat in his most recent start, the Nov. 16 Huntington Stakes at Aqueduct.

Smokume, who has been ridden by 17-year-old Shannon Uske in all four of his starts, was beaten just a length in the Huntington by Excellent Band, a Maryland standout who also is in the Spectacular Bid field. Jerkens said Uske "seems to think the horse is better when you give him a chance early. I'm going to let her do what she thinks is best. She has a very good rapport with the horse."

Like the rest of the field, Smokume and Excellent Band are unlikely to head to the Derby trail, although either could become major players in the more important races in Gulfstream's series of sprints for 3-year-olds, the Feb. 14 Hutcheson and March 13 Swale.

Among the other starters, Wynn Dot Comma and Saratoga County also figure strongly. Wynn Dot Comma reeled off four wins before the still-unbeaten Sir Oscar beat him by a length in the Nov. 15 Jack Price Juvenile at Calder. Saratoga County opened his career with an eye-popping 9 1/4-length triumph in maiden-claiming company before finishing second in his most recent race, a Sept. 26 allowance at Belmont.

Two allowances (races 6 and 9) also are carded Saturday.

>>> - Free past performances, A Closer Look and handicapper's analysis for the Spectacular Bid Stakes.