01/20/2005 12:00AM

Jimmy Jerkens takes a pass on First Lady

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Jimmy Jerkens nominated two fillies for Saturday's The First Lady Handicap but wound up without a starter in the race after he decided to pass with both Smokey Glacken and Boston Express.

"We came down here with the intention of running Smokey Glacken in The First Lady," said Jerkens, son of Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens. "Unfortunately she came up with a little minor problem in behind this week, forcing us to pass the race."

The remarkably consistent Smokey Glacken would have been among the key contenders in The First Lady, a Grade 3 race at six furlongs. A daughter of Forestry, she has never finished worse than third in nine career starts, with four of her five victories coming in stakes. She closed out her 3-year-old campaign with a second-place finish in Aqueduct's Grade 2 First Flight Handicap.

Boston Express has not started since finishing fifth in Woodbine's Group 3 Duchess Stakes on Aug. 21. She was third in the Grade 3 Azalea Breeders' Cup at Calder last summer in her first visit to south Florida.

"I'd rather bring her back in a three-other-than allowance race going 6 1/2 furlongs here next week than in the stakes, because I really want to start stretching her out a little further this year," said Jerkens.

Boston Express worked Thursday at Palm Meadows, going six furlongs in 1:14.20. The move was the fastest of four works on the tab.

Jerkens also reports that his turf star Artie Schiller shipped into his barn at Palm Meadows this week and will begin gearing up for his 2005 campaign. Artie Schiller was given some time off following his troubled 12th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Mile. The race was a disappointing conclusion to what had been an outstanding campaign for Artie Schiller, who had won five of his seven previous starts, including three graded stakes.

"We'll get him going here, and hopefully he'll be able to run before the meet is over, although he won't start until March at the earliest," said Jerkens. "From the looks of things, he should really love that turf course at Gulfstream."

Primary Suspect follows pattern

Primary Suspect, who has alternated wins and losses since launching his career with a 10 3/4-length victory at Monmouth Park in July, continued that trend by winning Thursday's $37,000 optional claiming and allowance feature. A son of Hennessy trained by Mark Hennig, Primary Suspect opened a long lead in midstretch, then withstood a strong rally from Nightmare Affair to post his fourth win in seven starts.

Primary Suspect, who was ridden to victory by Jerry Bailey, had finished sixth in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight in his previous outing.

Five in a row for Out of Pride

Out of Pride has turned into a veritable win machine at the age of 6. The gray daughter of Out of Place registered her fifth consecutive victory, the last three on grass, when she easily defeated $16,000 starter allowance competition going a mile in Thursday's second race.

Out of Pride won nine of 14 starts last season, the majority for trainer Christos Gatos. She was claimed for $16,000 at Calder by her current trainer, Larry Pilotti, for the Monarch Stables Inc. and has been perfect in three starts since. Each of her victories during the streak have come by margins of at least 1 3/4 lengths.

* Saint Liam, who is among the leading contenders for the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, continues to work forwardly for the race. The steadily improving son of Saint Ballado breezed one mile in 1:42.60 for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. at Palm Meadows on Thursday while preparing for his first start since winning the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26.