03/23/2006 1:00AM

Smokey Glacken better than ever

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Matt Dean/EQUI-PHOTO
Smokey Glacken takes the Hurricane Bertie, one of two recent handicap scores at Gulfstream.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A new and improved Smokey Glacken returns to New York in career form and is strictly the one to beat in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct.

, a 5-year-old daughter of Forestry, will meet six rivals in the Distaff, which will be run at six furlongs over the inner track for the first time since 1994. Classy Mirage won that year's running for Allen Jerkens, the father of Jimmy Jerkens, who trains Smokey Glacken.

Smokey Glacken, a seven-time stakes winner, is coming off eye-catching victories in the First Lady and Hurricane Bertie handicaps at Gulfstream Park. In the First Lady, she stalked outside of dueling leaders before taking command at the five-sixteenths pole and drawing off to win by 4 1/4 lengths. In the Hurricane Bertie, Smokey Glacken outbroke the field and led gate to wire to win by 3 1/2 lengths.

"It's so important for her to break sharp," Jimmy Jerkens said Thursday morning. "In her two starts in Florida she broke like a shot, which was great. You're in the catbird seat with her when she can break good."

Unlike the past two winters, when she did not train well or was injured in south Florida, Smokey Glacken blossomed in the south Florida sun this winter. Jerkens believes his mare "seems a little stronger physically for some reason" this year.

Smokey Glacken drew the outside post in the seven-horse field and will again be piloted by Javier Castellano, who makes his 2006 New York debut. She will carry 120 pounds.

was the last filly to beat Smokey Glacken, taking the Grade 2 First Flight Handicap over Aqueduct's main track last fall. In that race, Great Intentions was the beneficiary of an outside stalking trip while Smokey Glacken stumbled, then rushed up to duel for the lead.

Great Intentions has slowly cycled back to the form she showed last fall and comes off a solid win in the Flip's Pleasure, an overnight stakes race run here on Feb. 23.

"She's training like a monster," said Mike Hushion, the trainer of Great Intentions, who will carry 118 pounds and break from post 6 under Richard Migliore.

Hushion acknowledged that Smokey Glacken is a better horse than Great Intentions faced last fall. "We're going to have to run to beat her," he said.

Hushion will also run Sweet Sweet in the Distaff, hoping to obtain some black type for his New York-bred filly. Hushion also wouldn't mind seeing Sweet Sweet keep Smokey Glacken entertained on the front end. Sweet Sweet and Great Intentions will be coupled as both are owned by Barry Schwartz.

has won three straight races over the inner track, including the Correction and Broadway handicaps. She wheels back in on 13 days' rest, however.

Annika Lass, a winner of 7 of 13 career starts, makes her first start for trainer Steve Asmussen. Annika Lass, a closer who would benefit from a contested pace, was purchased privately by the Millennium Farms of Ro Parra last fall.

Maddalena and Flame of Love complete the field.