02/22/2005 12:00AM

Smokester dead at 17

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Smokester, who sired Free House, a two-time California-bred horse of the year, died Monday while breeding at Cardiff Stud Farm in Creston, Calif. Smokester, who was 17, had stood his entire career at the central California farm.

A winner of 2 of 4 starts, all in 1991, Smokester sired three graded stakes winners, but none was as successful as Free House, who won 9 of 22 starts and $3,178,971. Free House accounts for almost a quarter of Smokester's current progeny earnings of $13.6 million. Free House, an eight-time stakes winner, was the leading freshman stallion in California in 2003. He died last year while standing at stud at Vessels Stallion Farm.

Smokester had an advertised fee of $5,000 this year. Owned by Trudy McCaffery and John Toffan, who campaigned Free House, Smokester was bred to 55 mares in 2004, according to Jockey Club statistics.

Smokester, by Never Tabled, sired nine stakes winners, including Areyoutalkintome, who won the Grade 3 El Conejo Handicap at the current Santa Anita meeting.