03/08/2006 1:00AM

Mixed bunch go in sprint


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - An interesting mix of experienced horses, promising horses, and comebacking horses meet Friday in the featured 10th race at Oaklawn Park. The six-furlong optional claimer drew a field of nine, and the leading contenders include nine-time winner Jolie's Thunder, the undefeated Charging Indian, and the returning Guardian.

Another who fits well is Smile and Tears, who has faced a number of quality runners in his career, among them stakes winners Elusive Jazz and Jonesboro and the crack sprinter Semaphore Man.

closed for third to Semaphore Man two starts ago at Oaklawn, and since that race Semaphore Man has returned to win another allowance, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 106. Smile and Tears went on to finish fourth in his next start, which came in a six-furlong optional claimer on Feb. 25.

"I thought he ran well," said Jinks Fires, who trains Smile and Tears for Patricia Blass. "He was in behind horses and wound up getting through on the rail, and the rail wasn't the best place to come through that day."

Smile and Tears has since trained well, and Fires has given the mount to John McKee.

will be making his first start since April 2005 on Friday. He has won both of his starts, including an entry-level allowance by 4 1/2 lengths at Keeneland last out, earning a career-best Beyer Figure of 95.

That number is also the highest last-out Beyer in the field Friday. Adding to Charging Indian's appeal is the bullet six furlongs he worked in 1:13 at Louisiana Downs on March 1. Trainer Walter Bindner Jr. wins at an above average rate with his comebackers. He has given the mount to James Graham.

is another promising sort. He won his last two races, a maiden at Arlington Park in May, then an entry-level allowance by a neck at Oaklawn on Feb. 10. He did well to close from next-to-last in the slop in that race. Trainer Steve Hobby has given the mount to Carlos Marquez Jr.

Guardian last raced in November 2004 at Aqueduct. He will be making his first start at Oaklawn, and his first for trainer Cole Norman, off a series of strong six-furlong works. Guardian will be ridden by Jamie Theriot.