02/15/2005 12:00AM

'Smoke' needs no mirrors

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - is the horse to beat in a two-other-than allowance sprint for 3-year-olds at Oaklawn on Thursday, but two horses who did not have much racing luck in their last start are worth a long look.

could both fire big with clean trips in the allowance, which carries an optional claiming price of $100,000.

The race will go as the second on a nine-race card on Thursday.

Sir Laff Alot and City Code finished fifth and seventh last out, in the $50,000 Dixieland Stakes Jan. 21. Sir Laff Alot was second choice in the wagering behind winner Razor. He was coming off a front-running win over future stakes winner Crimson Stag in an allowance at Keeneland.

But in the Dixieland, Sir Laff Alot was never near the pace. "He struggled; he couldn't get a hold of the track," said John McKee, regular rider for Sir Laff Alot.

McKee said he was later informed by Bob Holthus, who trains Sir Laff A lot for Fly Racing, that the colt had lost a shoe during the race.

"In my mind, that was the reason he was struggling," said McKee.

City Code, meanwhile, got out on the turn, an uncharacteristic move for the colt, a consistent performer who finished third behind future graded winners Storm Surge and Spanish Chestnut in the Lone Star Juvenile last year.

City Code's trainer, Donnie Von Hemel, noted that City Code was much farther back than usual and might not have liked dirt being kicked back at him.

"He's worked since, and he's worked right around the turn like he's supposed to," said Von Hemel. "It just wasn't his day the other day. He's done well since."

Don Pettinger has the mount for Pin Oak Stable.

Smoke Smoke Smoke won the $40,000 Canterbury Juvenile in July, and finished in front of both Sir Laff Alot and City Code in the Dixieland, - rallying for second and earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 92. Smoke Smoke Smoke should benefit from the additional half-furlong he gets on Thursday.

Roman Chapa will ride Smoke Smoke Smoke for trainer Mac Robertson and Jer-Mar Stables.

* The eighth race is an entry-level allowance at one mile for 4-year-olds and up. Among the leading contenders are Frogman Henry and Pyramid Performer.

* Runway Model, a two-time Grade 2 winner last year who is aiming for the Kentucky Oaks, breezed four furlongs in 50.80 seconds on Tuesday.