09/14/2005 11:00PM

Smokey Glacken good as new

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Areek steps up from ungraded company in Saturday's Grade 3 Floral Park Handicap.

ELMONT, N.Y. - After a disappointing start to the year, Smokey Glacken returned to form last month with an allowance win at Saratoga. With that confidence-builder under her, Smokey Glacken returns to stakes company Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Floral Park Handicap at Belmont Park.

Smokey Glacken, 4, was a multiple stakes winner at ages 2 and 3, but an injury derailed her campaign this year. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens said Smokey Glacken developed a fracture to a hind leg while training in Florida last winter. After the injury healed, Jerkens rushed Smokey Glacken to make a pair of

graded stakes at Belmont in the spring in which she finished seventh and sixth.

After starting over, Smokey Glacken returned in a classified allowance race at Saratoga, winning a six-furlong race by a half-length. She came in a touch in the stretch and had to withstand a jockey's objection, but got the win nonetheless under John Velazquez.

"She broke slow, ran up in fast fractions, and it was telling on her late,'' Jerkens said. "Johnny can hold them together like nobody else.''

Smokey Glacken has come back with two bullet works since that race and could be the main speed under Velazquez in the seven-horse field.

Areek, a 4-year-old daughter of Deputy Minister trained by Mark Hennig, has won 5 of 6 starts this year and now returns to graded stakes company for the first time in 17 months. She took advantage of a hot early pace to win the $100,000 Regret Stakes at Monmouth Park on Haskell Day.

Gilded Gold ships in from New Jersey for trainer Alan Goldberg and owner Bobby Flay, the well-known chef. Gilded Gold, a daughter of Gilded Time, has won 2 of 4 starts since Flay bought her from trainer Tom Amoss in the summer of 2004. With Goldberg serving a suspension, assistant Edward Kelly Jr. will saddle her.

Molto Vita returns to Belmont, where she won a third-level allowance race in the fall of 2003 and was second to Lady Tak in last year's Gallant Bloom. She comes off a third in the Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap and gets the services of Jerry Bailey.

Lilah back with Jerkens

Though she was claimed away from Allen Jerkens for $100,000 two starts back, Lilah has returned to the Hall of Fame trainer's barn.

Jerkens began training Lilah in November 2002, after her sixth career start. He ran her 26 times - winning the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie Handicap with her earlier this year - before owners Roddy Valente and Barry Ostrager claimed her for $100,000 on June 29. They turned her over to Bruce Levine, who ran her against Smokey Glacken in an allowance race. She finished last, beaten 19 1/4 lengths.

Following that race, Valente ran into Jerkens at a Saratoga restaurant and asked him if he would like to train Lilah again. Since Levine had no objections, she was transferred back to Jerkens.

"She didn't breeze any good for me,'' Levine said. "I wasn't getting along with her. [Valente] said, 'Would you mind if I gave her back to Allen?' I said, 'No, go ahead. She ain't getting it done for me.' ''

In typical Jerkens fashion, Lilah worked twice in four days, including a bullet half-mile breeze in 46.97 seconds on Thursday.

"It doesn't matter who has her,'' Jerkens said, "every once in a while she's just not right. She wasn't undefeated when I had her.''

Capestro seeks big weekend

Trainer Paula Capestro aims for the biggest weekend of her training career when she sends out horses in two Grade 1 races this weekend. Saturday, she will saddle River's Prayer in the $300,000 Matron at Belmont. Sunday, Capestro will fly to Canada to run A to the Z in the $1 million Atto Mile.

"If you had asked me a year ago do you think you would be running in a Grade 1, I would have said you're crazy,'' Capestro said Thursday.

Capestro maintains a string of horses in Southern California and also at a farm in Ohio. She purchased A to the Z for her husband, Andrew, in the summer of 2004 and has had tremendous luck with him. A to the Z won last year's Cal Cup Mile and was second to Leroidesanimaux in the Grade 1 Citation Handicap. A to the Z also finished second in the Sunshine Millions Turf and was awarded first place in the Mervin Muniz Jr. Handicap after the winner, Royal Price, was disqualified.

River's Prayer has won the Cinderella Stakes and finished second in the Landaluce and third in the Del Mar Debutante. Capestro said River's Prayer missed some valuable training time leading up to the Debutante and that she should be tighter for this race. Capestro said she also believes River's Prayer will like the wide, sweeping turns at Belmont Park.

"She's a very big-striding horse, and the tight turns have always been a problem," Capestro said. "She's always gotten out a little bit on the tight turns. Here I think she can keep rolling.''

He's Got Grit may try Cowdin

Trainer Steve Asmussen decided to hold the undefeated He's Got Grit out of Saturday's Grade 2 Futurity and may now point the speedy 2-year-old to the Cowdin Stakes here on Oct. 2.

Asmussen, who will run Private Vow in the Futurity, said he took a pass on entering He's Got Grit because of "how hard he ran in the Sapling and the fact he's a touch lighter than he was previous to that. I felt I needed to take a step back instead of leaning forward.''

He's Got Grit is 3 for 3, including victories in the Tyro and Sapling. Asmussen said he would sit down and discuss the colt's future with owner Curtis Green before confirming a next spot.

Too Much Bling works toward Champagne

Too Much Bling, third behind First Samurai and Henny Hughes in the Grade 1 Hopeful, worked five furlongs in 1:01.81 Thursday morning at Belmont Park. Wearing blinkers and with Javier Castellano in the irons, Too Much Bling worked in company with Prideland over a sealed main track labeled fast.

Stonerside Stable purchased Too Much Bling following an 18-length win at River Downs in July. He was turned over to Bob Baffert and shipped to Saratoga. He set strong early fractions in the Hopeful before backing up to third.

"He was down on the rail and he didn't have any other option than to be up on the lead,'' said Tonja Terranova, who oversees Baffert's New York string. "He gutted it out and tried to come back to be second, but he got tired at the end. It was really a big effort for him. It was a huge jump in class.''

Terranova backed off Too Much Bling's training for a couple of weeks and he has now returned with two solid workouts. He is being pointed to the Grade 1 Champagne here on Oct. 8.

"We worked in blinkers last week and he went really well,'' Terranova said. "Today we worked him in company to see how he would react and he sat off that other horse nicely. Javier was really happy.''