05/26/2010 11:00PM

Jerkens taking aim at an old friend


ELMONT, N.Y. - Perhaps no one knows better than Jimmy Jerkens how difficult a task it will to beat Quality Road in Monday's Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap.

As the former trainer of Quality Road, Jerkens has great admiration for the colt, who will enter the Met Mile off dominant victories in the Hal's Hope and Donn Handicap at Gulfstream this winter.

"It's almost impossible," Jerkens said. "He's a horse and a half."

But that won't stop Jerkens and his owners the Centennial Farms from taking a shot with Convocation, who on Thursday breezed four furlongs in 48 seconds in preparation for the Met Mile. Convocation galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.20.

"I would have been a little happier if he went a tick faster," Jerkens said. "He started off a little slow, but he finished up good."

Convocation, a son of Pulpit, has recorded both of his victories in one-turn mile races. Last year, on Belmont Stakes Day, he won a maiden race by 6 3/4 lengths. In March, off a seven-month layoff, he won a first-level allowance by five lengths at Gulfstream Park. Most recently, he finished second in the Grade 3 Westchester Stakes, also a one-turn mile race at Belmont.

In 2007, Jerkens and Centennial Farms won the Met Mile with Corinthian, who upset a Todd Pletcher-trained favorite in Lawyer Ron. Pletcher is now the trainer of Quality Road.

Both Convocation and Corinthian are sons of Pulpit and have a hot temperament, according to Jerkens. Corinthian had more early speed than Convocation does, and Jerkens believes that ultimately Convocation may want more ground.

"Going further might be better for him," Jerkens said. "Corinthian won going a mile and three-sixteenths, but both times he beat real good horses was going a mile."

Entries for the Met Mile were to be taken Friday. The field, which was looking like 10 last week, could be down to seven. In addition to Quality Road and Convocation, others expected to enter include Kensei, Le Grand Cru, Tizway, Warrior's Reward, and You and I Forever. Honest Man, fourth in the Westchester, has been downgraded to possible.

Seattle Smooth retired

Seattle Smooth, a Grade 1 winner and million-dollar earner, has been retired from racing due to nagging ankle issues, her connections announced Thursday.

A 5-year-old daughter of Quiet American, Seattle Smooth won 7 of 14 starts, including the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap in 2009. The Phipps capped a five-race winning streak that began with the Go for Wand in 2008 at Delaware, the Grade 2 Fitz Dixon Cotillion at Philadelphia Park, and, in 2009, the Grade 2 Bed o' Roses at Aqueduct and Grade 2 Shuvee at Belmont.

Following the Phipps, Seattle Smooth was sent to the sidelines with ankle problems. She was brought back to the races in the Shuvee on May 15, where she finished second to Funny Moon. Shortly afterward, the ankle issues resurfaced, trainer Tony Dutrow told the owners.

"According to Tony, she's got similar problems, so he doesn't think we can really go on with her," said Ernie Moody, who races under the name Mercedes Stables. "Tony said she wasn't the same filly she was 11 months ago when she came back. He said she was having trouble galloping at full speed. He thought it was time to retire her. It's unfortunate. We were looking forward to her having a good year and getting to the Breeders' Cup. It is a sad thing."

Seattle Smooth earned $1,001,160.

Franny Freud heading to Prioress

Franny Freud came out of her easy six-length victory in Wednesday's New York Stallion Stakes "fantastic," according to trainer John Terranova, and the New York-bred filly will now set her sights on the Grade 1 Prioress Stakes on dirt at six furlongs on July 4.

Franny Freud ran her record to 7 for 10 by virtue of Wednesday's victory and now has won stakes on dirt, synthetic, and turf.

"I can't say what her best surface is," Terranova said. "We'll see once we get to Grade 1 competition what her best surface is."

Last year, Franny Freud ran in the Grade 1 Frizette at a mile on dirt and finished fifth, beaten 17 lengths, her only out-of-the-money finish.

"The Frizette was maybe a reach at that point in her development," Terranova said.

Terranova added that General Maximus, who won a division of the New York Stallion Stakes earlier this month at Belmont, will make his next start in the $100,000 Mike Lee Stakes here June 20.

On Thursday, General Maximus worked four furlongs in 49.33 seconds.

Wall Street Wonder to miss stakes

The only bad news coming out of the Terranova barn is that Wall Street Wonder, his graded stakes-winning sprinter, will miss the True North due to a respiratory infection.

Terranova said that Wall Street Wonder worked a little flat on May 22, and an endoscopic examination revealed the horse had some mucus in his lungs.

"To play catch-up in a graded stakes, you can't do it and expect to go over there and run the race you need to run," Terranova said.

After winning the Grade 3 Toboggan, Wall Street Wonder finished last in the Churchill Downs Stakes, run over a sloppy Churchill surface on Derby Day.

BetFair/TVG to sponsor triple tiara

The New York Racing Association has partnered with Betfair/TVG to create the Betfair/TVG Triple Tiara, comprising the Acorn, Coaching Club American Oaks, and Alabama for 3-year-old fillies.

If a filly can sweep all three races, Betfair/TVG will present the owners with a $50,000 bonus go to the charity of their choice. Only five fillies - Top Flight (1932), Shuvee (1969), Mom's Command (1985), Open Mind (1989), and Sky Beauty (1990) - have won that trio of races.

Since 1931, the triple tiara consisted of the Acorn, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club. In 2003, it was reconfigured where the Alabama replaced the Acorn. In 2006, the series reverted back to its original three races.

In other sponsorship news, NYRA has partnered with Ram Truck Brand to sponsor the $100,000 Hill Prince Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf on June 4.