11/14/2008 12:00AM

Smith poised for Philadelphia sweep


Maryland-based trainer Hamilton Smith stands a good chance of sweeping a pair of restricted stakes worth $50,000 apiece at Philadelphia Park on Sunday.

Smith will send out odds-on favorite Mr. Keeper for the Christopher Elser Memorial Stakes (race 6) and has two fast fillies in Blind Date and Millie Sunshine for the Donna Freyer (race 8). All three horses are homebreds for owner-breeder William Backer.

Both stakes are restricted to

2-year-olds who spent 90 days in South Carolina and will be contested at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Mr. Keeper towers over eight maiden rivals - three of them first-time starters - in the division for colts and geldings.

Mr. Keeper has already won the Oliver's Twist on turf and finished third in the $142,000 Maryland Million Nursery, a pair of restricted stakes at Laurel Park.

Smith is likely to run either Blind Date or Millie Sunshine, but not both. They were cross-entered in a $55,000 overnight stakes on Friday night's card at Penn National.

Blind Date is the faster of Smith's two fillies. She easily won her career debut at Laurel, then rallied to finish third of 10 in the seven-furlong Maryland Million Lassie.

Millie Sunshine won her career debut sprinting on turf at Colonial Downs. Both of her other starts have come on wet-fast tracks. She most recently finished a distant third in a first-level allowance at Delaware Park, but her Beyer Speed Figure of 67 looks good in this spot.

The most serious threat to Smith's coupled entry may be the Larry Jones-trained Payton d'Oro. Although still a maiden after two starts, Payton d'Oro sharply improved in her second career start while racing on Lasix for the first time. Jones is also 5 for 21 (24 percent) shipping into Philly Park this season.