07/15/2006 12:00AM

Nightmare Affair takes Smile

Jim Lisa Photos
Nightmare Affair cruises to a two-length victory in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap on Saturday at Calder after a wide rally into the stretch.

MIAMI - Nightmare Affair, in the best form of his career entering the $500,000 , took advantage of a fast pace to register a come-from-behind two-length victory over Pomeroy on Saturday at Calder. The Grade 2 dash was the highlight of the $2 million Summit of Speed program.

Lost in the Fog, the reigning Eclipse Award-winning sprinter, was never in serious contention and finished ninth as the even-money favorite in a full field of 13 sprint specialists.

Nightmare Affair, a troubled third in the 2005 Smile, raced well-placed under apprentice Jeffrey Sanchez while saving ground early. Sanchez angled Nightmare Affair well outside into what was clearly the better part of the racetrack turning for home, and the stretch runner responded with a late burst of speed that easily carried him past the tiring leaders nearing the wire.

Pomeroy, who underwent surgery to remove a chip in his ankle following the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes in October, ran down Weigelia to finish second while making his first start in more than nine months.

Lost in the Fog, the 125-pound highweight, raced in midpack and was never a serious factor. He lost for the third time in his last four starts after beginning his career with 10 straight victories.

"Certainly the 125 pounds didn't help us, but it didn't make us run eighth or ninth, either," trainer Greg Gilchrist said after the race. "You can't put a good spin on a race like this no matter what you say. He just didn't run well for whatever reason. He had a quarter crack that really got to bothering him here earlier in the week - at one point we were 50-50 not to run - but he seemed to be going really good on it the last couple of days."

Gilchrist said he will assess Lost in the Fog's condition when he returns to California, but did not rule out the possibility that the Smile may have been the 4-year-old's last race.

The Smile was the fourth straight victory and 11th in 40 career starts for Nightmare Affair, who is owned by the Timber Side Stable and trained by Manny Azpurua. He paid $31.40 after completing six furlongs in 1:10.56 over a fast but somewhat cuppy track.

"I was confident he'd run well today, because he's just been getting better and better with every race over the last two to three months," said Azpurua.