10/19/2007 12:00AM

Quick return seen as no problem for Smart Enough

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - Smart Enough has won 8 of his 10 races in turf sprints to rank among the elite of the division in North America. He will face his sternest test to date in Sunday's $500,000 Nearctic Stakes, a strong supporting feature on Canadian International Day at Woodbine.

Smart Enough has won 4 of 5 starts this year. Trainer John Fisher shipped him here for a front-running score in the Grade 3 Highlander Stakes June 24, and he has had the more lucrative six-furlong Nearctic in mind for him ever since then.

Two weeks ago in the five-furlong Thomas Edison Stakes at the Meadowlands, Smart Enough rallied from mid-pack to prevail in the final strides in a race run at night.

"He was unruly in the gate, which he'd never been before, and I think it was because of the lights," said Fisher. "The horse on his inside came out, and the horse on his outside came in, and he got shuffled back. Chris DeCarlo said he settled nicely, and then went ahead and got it done. It was completely the opposite of any race he's run."

Fisher believes running Smart Enough back in two weeks isn't too quick.

"He's doing well," said Fisher. "I've always had in my mind that the Meadowlands race was a prep for this race."

Fisher said Smart Enough's versatility is one of his assets.

"He's the best horse I've ever trained, because he's so dominant," Fisher said. "It doesn't have to go his way to win. He's not a one-dimensional horse."

Other contenders in the Grade 2 Nearctic include Dark Missile, Heros Reward, Moth Ball, and Dead Red.

English invader Dark Missile, the lone filly in the lineup, has faced males in each of her three starts this year, all in six-furlong sprints run on a straightaway. She was beaten a nose most recently in the Group 2 Diadem Stakes at Ascot.

Leanne Masterton, an assistant to trainer Andrew Balding, said Dark Missile has met some formidable opposition this year, and suffered a heartbreaking loss in her last start.

"She was in front everywhere but the line," she said.

Masterton believes the conditions of the Nearctic should be to Dark Missile's liking.

"She won around a bend as 2-year-old," Masterson recalled. "The ground will be perfect for her. She likes a bit of cut in it."

Heros Reward ran second to Smart Enough twice this year, in the Highlander and in the five-furlong Turf Monster Stakes at Philadelphia Park.

Moth Ball captured the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap over Santa Anita's downhill turf course last October.

Dead Red won the five-furlong Turf Sprint Handicap at Calder in his next-to-last outing.