07/06/2004 11:00PM

Ogygian more to Smokume's liking


ELMONT, N.Y. - The Grade 2 Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup was a tough spot for Smokume, who finished fifth in the seven-furlong stakes.

In Friday's $60,000-added Ogygian Stakes at Belmont Park, Smokume faces a softer group and turns back to a more favorable distance. Six 3-year-olds were entered in the Ogygian, a 5 1/2-furlong dirt race for nonwinners of a graded stakes this year.

drew the outside post and will be ridden by Shannon Uske. He is the likely favorite in the eighth race on the twilight racing card.

Trained by Allen Jerkens, Smokume came from off the pace to score a 1 1/4-length victory over War's Prospect in the Gilded Time Stakes at Monmouth Park on May 29, which was rained off the turf. Smokume will meet War's Prospect again Friday.

Since running in the Riva Ridge, where he tired after a speed duel down the backstretch, Smokume worked a bullet three furlongs in 35.05 seconds last Friday and another bullet three furlongs in a swift 33.17 on Tuesday.

was among five horses trained by Todd Pletcher who were nominated to Sunday's $150,000 Dwyer, but instead he's running in the Ogygian. Forest Grove finished second in his last start, a second-level allowance race, after dueling for the lead through quick fractions with Mass Media, the half-length winner of the six-furlong race. It was a good race for Forest Grove, who was bumped at the start.

If the track is wet, Forest Grove's chances improve.

John Velazquez has the mount aboard Forest Grove, who drew post 4.

After the Gilded Time, War's Prospect came back and finished fifth in the two-turn Restoration Stakes on the turf at Monmouth on June 19. A return to the dirt should help War's Prospect, who will break from post 5 with Jorge Chavez in the saddle.

In last year's Huntington Stakes at Aqueduct, Excellent Band beat Smokume by a length. This year, Excellent Band has run three clunkers, including a seventh-place finish in the Hirsch Jacobs at Pimlico in his last start May 15.

Quick Action hasn't won since the Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes at Aqueduct in January. Since then, Quick Action, who drew the rail for Friday's race, has lost six subsequent starts at four different distances.

The Ogygian is his first start at 5 1/2 furlongs.