03/09/2007 12:00AM

Only three try taking on Smokey Stover


SAN MATEO, Calif. – Only three runners will challenge Smokey Stover in the Sunday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Bay Meadows Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Smokey Stover surely scared off some potential opposition when he defeated Proud Tower Too and Bordonaro in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita on Jan. 27. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 113 in that 3 1/4-length win, and is the nation’s top-ranked sprinter in Daily Racing Form handicapper Mike Watchmaker’s ratings.

Smokey Stover will tote 123 pounds in the six-furlong Bay Meadows BC Sprint, giving Areyoutalkintome seven pounds, Trickey Trevor eight, and Britt’s Jules nine.

Smokey Stover got what trainer Greg Gilchrist admits was “an absolutely perfect trip” in the Sunshine Millions Sprint. Proud Tower Too cleared early while setting quick fractions of 21.47 and 44.02 seconds. Smokey Stover sat in third behind Bordonaro early, and had no trouble going past the leaders in the stretch.

“When he turned for home, he really kicked in and got into rhythm,” Gilchrist said. “For the first time, the horse got an absolutely perfect trip. He was drawn outside, and he was able to show what he can do. He didn’t really surprise me. I thought he’d run really big that day.”

Gilchrist has trained Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Lost in the Fog and Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up Soviet Problem, and he thinks Smokey Stover has a shot at the Breeders’ Cup.

Smokey Stover has 5 wins and 4 seconds in 9 starts. He had trouble in three of his losses and in the fourth loss he ran off a four-month layoff.

“It’s not out of the realm of possibility he could be undefeated,” Gilchrist said.

Smokey Stover got a perfect draw on the outside in the four-horse field.

Areyoutalkintome has earned more than $900,000, but he hasn’t won since the Pirate’s Bounty at Del Mar last September. He comes off a second in the Sensational Star, a turf sprint for California-breds at Santa Anita, and two starts back ran seventh behind Smokey Stover in the Sunshine Millions Sprint.

Britt’s Jules has improved vastly since being claimed for $25,000 three starts back by trainer Bill Morey. He won a $40,000 claiming sprint at Golden Gate by four lengths in his first start for Morey, and lost by a nose in the Fairfax there in his last start. He earned triple-digit Beyer Figures in both races.

Trickey Trevor, who won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap last May, comes off a third behind Britt’s Jules in the Fairfax, his first start since August.