01/09/2009 1:00AM

Lofty goals for Seattle Smooth


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - As Tony Dutrow gets set to bring one Grade 2 stakes-winning filly back to the races Sunday at Aqueduct, there is another Grade 2 winner in his care that he is equally, if not more, enthusiastic about bringing back later this year.

Seattle Smooth, who ended her 3-year-old season with a victory over Proud Spell in the Grade 2 Cotillion at Philadelphia Park, has been jogging for three weeks at Aqueduct. She will shortly begin galloping and Dutrow is hoping to bring her back to the races in April.

"Our goal is to win a Grade 1 with her,'' Dutrow said. "We need lots of help from her, but that's our goal.''

Dutrow took over the training of Seattle Smooth last summer as owners Ernest Moody and Madeleine Paulson shipped her east seeking races on dirt. In her first start for Dutrow, Seattle Smooth won the Go for Wand Stakes at Delaware Park by 7 1/4 lengths. Three weeks later, she upset Proud Spell in the Grade 2 Cotillion.

Dutrow was at Saratoga when Seattle Smooth won at Delaware, but he said he walked out of the track that day with a plan.

"As we walked out of the races that day I said to my wife, 'Kimmy, I'm going to find the best of her generation to run her against next time,' '' Dutrow said. "We found Proud Spell in the Cotillion. I respect Proud Spell like everybody else, she's a good one, but she was also at the end of a tough campaign in which she performed magnificently. I said 'You know what Proud Spell, you're not going to beat this filly today. You might beat her another day.' ''

Dutrow and his owners decided to give Seattle Smooth the remainder of the year off, with the hopes of having a bigger, stronger filly as a 4-year-old.

"We have every reason to believe she will be a better horse,'' Dutrow said. "It looked like she was coming on really, really good there. With some maturity and some rest this would be a horse that would be a player in major races come her 4-year-old year.''

Dutrow is also hoping for a good year from Sherine, who returns from a eight-month layoff in Sunday's Soft Morning Stakes for New York-beds at six furlongs. Sherine won the Grade 2 Comely for Dutrow last April, but was put away after finishing sixth in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in May. She was put through the Keeneland sales ring in November by owner Ahmed Zayat. She did not meet her reserve, but Zayat sold the horse privately to Michael Dubb and Stuart Grant, who kept her with Dutrow.

"She's got talent and when it goes well she can be a good horse and beat a good horse,'' Dutrow said. "But she's not a Ginger Punch that no matter what shows up every time.''

Dutrow said Sunday's Soft Morning at six furlongs is just a prep race for longer races later in the year.

No plans for Smokin Hero

Smokin Hero proved that his 8 3/4-length maiden win two starts back was no fluke when he rolled to an even more impressive 12 3/4-length victory in a first-level New York-bred allowance race here on Wednesday.

Smokin Hero ran six furlongs in 1:10.10 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 92 for the performance. Now, the connections of Smokin Hero must decide whether to stretch him out or keep him sprinting. Trainer Allen Iwinski all but ruled out the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at six furlongs here on Jan. 19 because it would be too soon after his last race.

"We'd like to give him four or five weeks to let him recoup,'' Iwinski said.

Smokin Hero was getting a reputation as a money-burner early in his career, finishing second four consecutive times at odds of 6-5 or shorter and then third at 4-5. On Nov. 7, he won a maiden race while dueling on the lead before finishing sixth in his first try against winners on Dec. 14.

Smokin Hero had always shown speed, and Iwinski was trying to get the riders to get him to rate. But when the first three winners on Nov. 7 went gate to wire, Iwinski scrapped rating that day. When Smokin Hero did rate on Dec. 14, he resented it and finished sixth.

Smokin Hero is a son of Smokin Mel, who won the 1997 Gotham Stakes here and was third in the Wood Memorial. Back then, the Gotham was a one-turn mile. Now, it's run at 1 1/16 miles around two turns.

If Iwinski elects to keep him sprinting, Smokin Hero may point for the $65,000 Fred "Cappy'' Capossela Stakes on Feb. 16.

Awesome Ashley upsets Plankton

Awesome Ashley, beaten 20 1/2 lengths in the You'd Be Surprised Stakes last month, rebounded in a similar spot on Friday, rolling to a 3 1/2-length victory in the $66,700 Plankton Stakes.

Devil House, who set quick early fractions, held second, by one length over Weathered, the 4-5 favorite.

Devil House, under Chuck Lopez, took charge early and carved out fractions of 23.24 seconds and 45.93 for the opening half-mile. Weathered stalked from second while Awesome Ashley, who bobbled at the break, settled into fifth before launching a three-wide bid around the turn under Ramon Dominguez. Awesome Ashley took over in midstretch and rolled home to an easy victory.

Awesome Ashley, a 5-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song owned by Alex G. Campbell and trained by Todd Pletcher, ran a mile in 1:35.87 and returned $24.20 to win.

* The stewards fined jockey Victor Santiago $250 for excessive use of the whip on Karlita's Way in Wednesday's sixth race. Santiago hit Karlita's Way multiple times coming out of the gate in a failed attempt to make the lead. Karlita's Way eventually finished second in the $15,000 claiming race.