04/29/2008 12:00AM

Smitty's Sunshine adds a new dimension


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A year ago this week, Smitty's Sunshine used her early speed to post a gate-to-wire victory in the Mamzelle Stakes over the Churchill Downs turf. If Smitty's Sunshine scores a repeat victory in Thursday's 12th running of the $100,000 Mamzelle she will likely employ different tactics.

In her last several races, Smitty's Sunshine has shown the ability to come from off the pace, something trainer Morris Nicks said he believes has come with maturity.

"She started to relax a little more, make one run instead of [going] all the way,'' Nicks said Tuesday morning. "Maybe she grew up a little bit.''

Smitty's Sunshine, a 5-year-old Louisiana-bred daughter of Seeking a Home, has won 9 of 17 starts and is coming off a half-length victory against males in the Houston Sprint Turf Cup at Sam Houston. In the race prior to that, Smitty's Sunshine finished fifth in the Bienville at Fair Grounds, one of only four times she has finished worse than third.

"She got off slow and we probably pushed the button a little too quick,'' Nicks said.

Nicks said Smitty's Sunshine had been dealing with a few physical issues during the early part of the year but he believes those are behind her.

"I'm really happy with the way she's coming into the race,'' Nicks said. "I feel real good about her; just hope we have a real clean trip.''

Smitty's Sunshine will break from post 5 under Robby Albarado in the five-furlong Mamzelle. All eight runners carry 118 pounds. Last year, Smitty's Sunshine won the Mamzelle carrying 124 pounds, spotting the majority of the field six pounds.

Just for Keeps and Cat on a Cloud look like the major speed horses in the Mamzelle. Just for Keeps finished second under Albarado in the Giant's Causeway at Keeneland on April 19, but was disqualified and placed third when she swerved out and interfered with Kindling in the stretch.

"I don't know if it was Robby hitting her left handed or she spotted something in the infield,'' trainer Mike Maker said. "We never had a problem with that in the past; hopefully, that's a one-time occurrence.''

With Albarado aboard Smitty's Sunshine, Garrett Gomez picks up the mount on Just for Keeps.

Cat on a Cloud returns to the turf after a dismal showing in a dirt stakes at Delta Downs in February.

Kindling and Taletobetold were both affected by Just for Keeps swerving out in the stretch of the Giant's Causeway and could be factors in here with smoother trips.