07/16/2007 11:00PM

Smarty Deb gets job done


AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Doris Harwood has felt that Smarty Deb is a filly of high quality since she began working with her last fall, in part because she never made any mistakes.

Smarty Deb made a significant mistake in Sunday's six-furlong Angie C. Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, breaking dead last in a field of eight, but the fact that she overcame it seemed to validate her trainer's opinion.

Smarty Deb's gate problems began when she was reluctant to load, leaving the gate crew with few options but to pack her into the gate by brute force.

"That made her a little sulky," said Harwood. "We've always known she has a little bit of a red-headed attitude."

Smarty Deb broke only about a length slowly, but when most horses do that they are much farther behind by the time they get rolling. That was not the case with Smarty Deb.

"She came out slowly, but she is so athletic that she caught her stride right away, and she started passing horses," said rider Ricky Frazier. "I was still a little nervous on the backstretch, but I felt we were in good position on the turn, and when she came to the leader she just exploded. She was plenty best."

Smarty Deb, who was the even-money favorite, caught second choice Made for Magic at the furlong marker and drew off to score by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:09.60, equaling the stakes record set last year by Judicature. It was the second win from as many starts for Smarty Deb, a daughter of Smart Strike and Taste the Passion who races for her breeder, Jerre Paxton. Taste the Passion won two stakes for Paxton, including the Angie C., and she is the dam also of Shampoo, a winner of three stakes this year for Paxton and Harwood.

"She has an outstanding pedigree," said Harwood. "The Smart Strikes are running well all over the country, and her dam throws a lot of class. When they are bred the way she is, it makes my job easy."

Harwood said that she and Paxton will not consider shipping Smarty Deb out of town until this meeting is over.

"Jerre likes to race here, so we are going to stay and try to make as much money as we can at this meeting," she said. "When the meeting is over, we will sit down and see what our options are. If she is still looking good and she is still sound, we might set our sights a little higher."

While it was no surprise that Smarty Deb won the Angie C., giving Harwood, Frazier and Paxton their fifth stakes wins at the meeting, Harwood did take punters off guard by saddling Princess Hiawatha to run third. Princess Hiawatha, a maiden making her second start, finished fast at 27-1.

"I wasn't really surprised by her, either," said Harwood. "She is very talented, too, and she finished like a bomb in her debut. She has a pedigree to go long, so you might be hearing more from her later on."

Princess Hiawatha, a $37,000 Keeneland purchase, is by Petionville and out of Silver Hiawatha, by Silver Buck. She is owned by Golden Aggie Ranch.

Rolling the dice in marathon series

Some of the biggest gambles on Friday night were not made at the windows. Six of the 13 horses who contested two divisions of the initial 1 1/8-mile leg of the Harely H. Hoppe and Associates Marathon Championship Series, nearly all of whom had been racing for lower tags, were claimed for $7,500.

The reason those claims made sense, or potential sense, has to do with changes in the conditions of this year's marathon series. Whereas in the past all three legs were run under $10,000 starter-allowance conditions, this year the first leg was run under $7,500 claiming conditions, and the next two legs will be run under $7,500 starter-allowance conditions. Moreover, only the horses who contested Friday's split first leg can contest the next two legs, which boast purses of $15,000 and $20,000, plus a $1,000 bonus for the trainer of the top point-earner.

"In the past the series was usually dominated by a horse like Itstufftobegood, who had gotten a lot better after they became eligible," said racing secretary Brett Anderson. "Making the first leg a claiming race sort of evens up the playing field, and closing the next two legs will keep it level."

Those changes also put a premium on the horses who ran on Friday, and six parties paid that premium by claiming the winners of both divisions, Flip Flop Fly and Crowning Event, as well as Rock the Stone (fifth in the first division) and Military Deputy, He's Cool and Cleard for Action (third, fourth, and fifth in the second division).

The new connections will be well out on their claim if their horse wins either of the next two legs of the series. If not, they will have paid $7,500 for horses who had for the most part been running for $4,000 or $5,000.

Fourth win of meet for Ogieoglethorpe

Ogieoglethorpe, a rapidly improving 3-year-old from the barn of trainer Rigoberto Velasquez, became the second horse to win four races at the meeting when he scored his third straight victory in Saturday's eighth race for $25,000 claimers.

Ogieoglethorpe, named for a character in the Paul Newman film "Slapshot," equaled the total of the 5-year-old mare Victory Script, who scored her fourth win at the stand on July 8.