07/20/2001 12:00AM

Mike Smith's hefty good luck charm


DEL MAR, Calif. - Athletes who are as different as Mike Smith and Bryan Cox have a hard time walking around together and not attracting attention.

On Friday, the two longtime friends spent the morning in the Del Mar barn area.

Smith, the 5-foot 4-inch jockey, was working horses for trainer Eoin Harty, and basking in the glow of having two winners at Del Mar on Thursday. Cox, the 6-foot 4-inch, 250-pound NFL linebacker who is a horse owner, was tagging along, enjoying a morning out with his friend.

Cox even took some credit for Smith's double on Thursday aboard Tru Gait ($7.80) in the first race and Carson City Red ($23.20) in the fourth race.

"He had his good luck charm along," Cox said, speaking of himself.

Smith needed two winners on Thursday to stay within striking range of Laffit Pincay Jr. Pincay tripled on Wednesday and added two winners on Thursday. He is seeking his third consecutive riding title, having won awards earlier this year at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting and the Hollywood Park meeting.

Pincay does not ride at Del Mar on Sunday, but he will be at Arlington International to ride Sligo Bay in the American Derby.

This is the first year that Smith has ridden at Del Mar, having spent recent summers at Saratoga.

Over the years, Smith and Cox have watched each other excel in their sports. Smith has won two Eclipse Awards as the nation's outstanding jockey, while Cox has spent 10 years in the NFL with the Dolphins, Bears, and Jets.

Of his horse operation, Cox said he has more breeding and young stock than he would prefer. Ideally, he would like to have a few horses at the track each year.

"I'm learning about what I want to do," he said. "The thrill for me is racing and not breeding. I like the action."

For the moment, Cox is a free agent. His NFL career is on hold, but he expects to sign with a team in time to play in the coming season.

"I'll play, but I don't know where," Cox said. "I'm just staying fit. I'm not worried about it."

"I guarantee I'll know before anyone else does," Smith said. And with that, they were off for a late-morning round of golf, which ended just in time for racing.

Robbins cheered by Tiznow's work

Tiznow's first workout of the year at Del Mar on Friday left trainer

Jay Robbins optimistic that the 2000 Horse of the Year continues to show progress following two months away from serious training due to a back injury.

Tiznow breezed a half-mile in 48.60 seconds under Chris McCarron, his second workout since returning to training. Working solo, Tiznow jogged one mile on the main track before the workout.

"Chris said he felt great, and he got a little leg-weary," Robbins said. "I probably screwed up letting him warm up that long. He was getting kind of rank."

Tiznow has not started since winning the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap last March.

His goal is the $250,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap over a mile on Sept. 2, but there is no margin for error in the next six weeks. Another setback could prematurely end his career before he is sent to stud next year.

Beat All focuses on turf

Turf racing will be the focus of Beat All's career after his win in the restricted Kobuk King Stakes on Thursday. Beat All won the minor race by a half-length over Sestino, finishing 1 3/8 miles on turf in 2:15.14. The result gave trainer Neil Drysdale a 1-2 finish. War Declaration was third in the field of six.

The Kobuk King Stakes was Beat All's first win in the U.S., in his fourth appearance. In Europe, he finished third in the English Derby and fourth in the Irish Derby in 1999. Gary Stevens rode him in those races and was aboard Beat All in the Kobuk King.

The victory was Beat All's first start since he finished third in an allowance race on dirt at Santa Anita in April. Earlier this year, he was eighth in the Santa Anita Handicap.

"We tried him on the dirt, but he didn't show the results we expected," said Drysdale. He said he does not have an immediate goal for Beat All.

Oaks fore and aft for Collect Call

Collect Call, who was third in the Kentucky Oaks in May, emerged from her runner-up finish in the Hollywood Oaks on July 14 in good order, trainer Christopher Paasch said.

Her next goal is the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/8 miles on turf on Aug. 18. A winner of 2 of 10 starts, Collect Call has never started on turf. "We'll work on the turf next week and see," Paasch said.