12/18/2003 12:00AM

Smoke Till Dawn record a shocker


ALBANY, Calif. - There's no disputing that Smoke Till Dawn is a highly useful sprinter. But a track record holder?

A 4-year-old gelding by Smokester, Smoke Till Dawn broke the Golden Gate Fields record for six furlongs in winning his fourth straight race Wednesday in a $16,000 claimer, beating Court Shenanigans by 4 1/2 lengths in 1:07.45. The old mark of 1:07.55 was set by El Dorado Shooter in the Montclair Handicap on Jan. 20, 2001.

"I think that's my first track record holder," said trainer Bill Morey, who claimed Smoke Till Dawn for $12,500 in his previous start. "I was shocked when I saw the time."

Winning jockey David Lopez was stunned when he heard the time as well. Asked if it felt as if Smoke Till Dawn was running that fast, Lopez said, "Believe me, no."

Smoke Till Dawn broke sharply but was quickly headed by Northern Tide through a 21.25-second opening quarter-mile. He began to open up on the turn, and led Northern Tide by 1 1/2 lengths after a 43.55-second half-mile. Court Shenanigans loomed, but Smoke Till Dawn shifted into a new gear.

"David looked pretty confident," Morey said. "I was a little concerned when that gray horse [Court Shenanigans] loomed up to him, but, as soon as he got to him, my horse kicked away."

Lopez suffered a mild concussion Sunday when he fell as his mount pulled himself up abruptly in the lane. The record-setting ride was his first after that spill. He followed with a win aboard No Issues in the next race and is currently tied for second in the jockey standings with Roberto Gonzalez with 21 wins, seven behind the injured leader, Russell Baze.

"This horse can run," Lopez said. "I've ridden him four times and won four times. This race was the best yet."

Smoke Till Dawn began his winning streak after being claimed on Sept. 19 by trainer John Martin. Martin re-claimed him Wednesday.

Onebadshark returns

Onebadshark, who cut out a fast pace in the El Camino Real Derby, makes his first start since that March 8 race in Saturday's feature, a six-furlong allowance race. Onebadshark was nominated to the Dec. 6 Oakland Handicap but didn't run.

Trained by Brian Koriner, Onebadshark has four straight bullet works, including three at six furlongs. He blew out with a 34.80 three-furlong bullet on Tuesday.

Spy Me Not, second to the quick Clear Creek Canyon at this level in his last start, is the probable favorite.

Stage Player and Fabulous World, both coming off $40,000 starter allowance victories, and Attack Force, the runner-up to One Bad Shark in his debut but winner of a $32,000 claimer off a nine-month layoff in his last start, also will have their share of backers.