03/06/2008 1:00AM

Smithwick pair must get good trip


Speedy Smithwick tries hard to gauge how the Polytrack is playing on any given day at Turfway Park, but the trainer admits he is often baffled.

"Most of the time it favors closers from the outside, but then on the odd day, it's okay on the fence," said Smithwick. "Sometimes I just don't know what to think."

The subject arises as the $50,000 Wintergreen Stakes approaches. Smithwick sent out the one-three finishers in the same filly and mare division locally four weeks ago in the Likely Exchange, and he will be represented by the same duo - La Perouse and Our Dancing Babe - in Saturday's one-mile Wintergreen.

Smithwick said he believes La Perouse may have had an edge when she rallied down the center of the track in posting a 13-1 upset in the Likely Exchange.

"She had that middle path, which is usually good here," he said. "My other filly ended up next to the rail, and I thought it was the worst part of the racetrack that day."

La Perouse, owned by Henrietta Alexander, won by a head over Fun Logic, with Our Dancing Babe just another head back in third. Fun Logic, a former Southern California regular trained by Bill Currin, also is back for the Wintergreen, which drew 14 entries, but will be limited to 12 starters.

Smithwick, a former steeplechase jockey and private trainer for the late Jack Kent Cooke, has enjoyed a productive winter at Turfway, winning with 9 of 28 starters. He is hoping that Jesus Castanon, riding Our Dancing Babe from post 7, and Victor Lebron, guiding La Perouse away from post 9, can work out good trips again Saturday.

"A lot of times that's what it boils down to over this Polytrack, the trip you get," said Smithwick.

Besides the top finishers from the Likely Exchange, other contenders include Beat the Band, back from Oaklawn Park; Girls Pearls, back from Gulfstream Park; and Marquee Delivery, a consistent filly with 11 in-the-money finishes from 12 starts.

The Wintergreen, named for the winner of the 1909 Kentucky Derby, dates to 1983. The 2007 winner was Half Heaven, ridden by Miguel Mena and trained by Dale Romans.

A $26,600 allowance route precedes the Wintergreen on a 12-race card that starts at the usual 1:10 p.m. Eastern.