04/16/2004 11:00PM

Passing Shot: An inside job

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Passing Shot, under Jose Santos, wins the Bed o' Roses. Odds-on favorite Smok'n Frolic ran a wide second.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Allen Jerkens maintained his mastery of the Bed o' Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap while also giving himself an early 75th birthday present Saturday at Aqueduct.

Under Jose Santos, Passing Shot rallied along the rail in the stretch and drew clear for a 2 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3, $158,400 before 5,177. It was the seventh victory for Jerkens in the 48-year history of this race. The win comes four days before Jerkens turns 75.

Smok'n Frolic, the 3-5 favorite, raced three wide the entire trip and won a three-way battle for second by a head over Nonsuch Bay. Victory Encounter, the pacesetter, finished fourth followed by Princess Dixie and Chirimoya.

Buy the Sport, last year's Grade 1 Gazelle Handicap winner, was scratched Saturday morning after coming down with a case of colic.

Passing Shot, a 5-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy, had not won since upsetting heavily favored Wild Spirit in last August's Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga.

Saturday, she broke alertly under Santos, sat fourth as Victory Encounter set fractions of 23.46 seconds, 46.63, and 1:10.57 while being pressed by Chirimoya. Santos, who had kept Passing Shot on the rail down the backside, thought about going wide for the stretch, but changed his mind turning for home.

"I was thinking about going to the outside at the five-sixteenths pole but [Victory Encounter] was drifting out a little bit," Santos said. "I pushed her to the inside and she just went on, and she won pretty handily."

Passing Shot won for the sixth time in 22 starts - she is 3 for 5 at Aqueduct - and increased her earnings to $548,857 for owner/breeder Jerry Shields.

"She was wanting to go early today; most of her best races are when she's wanting to go early," said Jerkens, who may look at the Grade 2, $200,000 Shuvee on May 15 at Belmont Park for Passing Shot's next start.

This marked the second straight year that Smok'n Frolic finished second in the Bed o' Roses after winning the Next Move Handicap.

"She kind of hung a little bit," said John Velazquez, the rider of Smok'n Frolic. "She never gave me that extra kick."