06/26/2008 11:00PM

Smith wins four as a going-away present


MIAMI - Jockey Ariel Smith knew he was going on a three-day vacation, courtesy of the track stewards, beginning Friday when he reported for work on Thursday morning. And his agent, Kevin Meyocks, gave him a little pep talk just to remind him of the situation.

"Kevin said I better get it together to make up for the lost days," said Smith - who then went out and followed Meyocks's orders by winning four races on Thursday's card.

"It was my best day in a while, that's for sure," said Smith. "It certainly was a nice way to go out before starting the days, and will help get back some of the business a rider will always lose when set back by having to serve a suspension, even one of only three days."

Smith, the 1999 Eclipse Award winner as the nation's leading apprentice, had been in and out of south Florida for several years before deciding to settle down on a permanent basis here in 2006.

"About two years ago I just decided to stick it out down here, and right now things are working out great," said Smith, the son of former rider Alfred Smith Jr., who still stands 19th on the all-time jockey list at Calder with 487 winners. "The trainers have really helped me out a lot. I got off to a good start at this meet, and it's kind of had a snowball effect. Now I can't wait to get back to action again next week."

Smith, who earlier this month guided the undefeated 2-year-old prospect Bee Cee Cee to an easy victory in the B L's Sweep Stakes for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr., has ridden 31 winners over the first 38 days of the meet. He was third in the standings behind only Paco Lopez and Manoel Cruz as he began his suspension Friday.

La Chica Sensual looks good for stakes series

La Chica Sensual stamped herself as a top contender for the upcoming Florida Stallion Stakes following her victory in Thursday's featured eighth race, which was decided under starter allowance conditions. La Chica Sensual, a daughter of Lightnin N Thunder, began her career at Monmouth Park, where she overcame an unlucky start to post a game nose decision under a $40,000 claiming tag four weeks earlier.

La Chica Sensual once again rallied from off the pace to capture her local debut, readily overtaking the leaders after fanning wide exiting the turn before drawing off to a 5 1/4-length victory under jockey Ray Fuentes. La Chica Sensual raced for trainer Julian Canet in New Jersey but is stabled locally with Pablo Andrade.

The filly division of the Stallion Stakes begins with the $100,000 Desert Vixen Stakes at six furlongs on Aug. 16 and continues with the $150,000 Susan's Girl on Sept. 6 and the $400,000 My Dear Girl on Oct. 18.

La Chica Sensual could first return in the $36,000 J J'sdream Stakes at six furlongs on July 12. The J J'sdream and its male counterpart, the $36,000 Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes the same afternoon, were both valued at $100,000 when the original stakes schedule was released, but they have become victims of the conflict between track management and Florida horsemen that has resulted in drastic purse cuts since the first week of the meet.

Ancient Culture comes in off big Beyer top

The bounce theory will be put to the test when Ancient Culture goes postward as the likely favorite in Sunday's $19,600 allowance feature at a mile and 70 yards.

Ancient Culture is coming off a career-best performance, a 2 3/4-length first-level optional claiming victory for which he earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure less than two weeks ago. That number was 21 points higher than his best Beyer in five prior starts in the U.S. Ancient Culture began his career in his native England.

Ancient Culture will move up in company to face second-level optional claiming opposition in Sunday's main event. The field includes A Fleet Prospector, who beat Ancient Culture by 8 1/2 lengths when the pair met on May 26, as well as Minidrop, who defeated Ancient Culture by a dozen lengths early in the meet.

A Fleet Prospector knows all about the bounce theory - 11 days after he earned a career-best 90 Beyer for beating Ancient Culture, he finished a distant sixth in his next race.

Minidrop, who won at this condition in handy fashion in December, has finished second in each of his last two starts but was victimized by bad trips on both occasions.