02/14/2009 12:00AM

Smart Surprise relishes slop

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Polytrack specialist Smart Surprise proved equally adept at handling a sloppy main track at Fair Grounds.

Winless in nine previous starts on dirt, including three wet tracks, but 3 for 4 on the synthetic main track at Woodbine, Smart Surprise ($6.80) returned from a 2 1/2-month layoff to romp to a 6 1/4-length win in the $60,000 Chou Croute Handicap.

Sent off as the second choice in a field of six fillies and mares, the 5-year-old Smart Surprise pressed the pace set by 29-1 longshot Symphony of Psalm. When rider Robby Albarado asked Smart Surprise to move coming around the turn into the stretch, she responded to open up a two-length lead with a furlong remaining and pulled away from runner-up Rolling Sea, the 7-5 favorite. She's Indy Money finished third, 2 3/4 lengths behind Rolling Sea.

Trained by Josie Carroll for owner John Sikura, Smart Surprise covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.84 while winning her third straight race. She is now 4 for 5 since coming to Carroll's barn after going 0 for 9 while trained by Mark Hennig.