Updated on 09/18/2011 2:12AM

Smokey Stover back at best


ALBANY, Calif. - It was a fun weekend on the track for trainer Greg Gilchrist, owner Harry Aleo, and jockey Russell Baze, even though it started with a narrow nose defeat for Vicarino. By the time the weekend was over, Smokey Stover had pretty much punched his ticket to compete in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita, and Quite a Rush gave the trio, well, quite a rush with her impressive maiden victory.

Smokey Stover, already a stakes winner, has been one of the unluckiest horses around. He worked 12 times after his stakes victory before Gilchrist finally found a race for him at Del Mar earlier this summer.

Following a pair of frustrating losses at Del Mar, Smokey Stover finally got a race at Golden Gate Fields last Sunday. He made pretty short work of the field as he took back, swung wide for clear sailing, and was under wraps in an easy victory.

"If he keeps running like that, he'll have to run Dec. 26th," Gilchrist said of the traditional opening day feature at Santa Anita.

"It will be all about getting him to that race, but if we can catch a race halfway between, we'd probably run."

Quite a Rush, 2-5 in her debut when she closed belatedly, went wire to wire to beat stablemate Trippi Bree by seven lengths in a fast race for 2-year-old maiden fillies.

Gilchrist thinks better things are ahead for Quite a Rush.

"That filly can go two turns," he said.

Vicarino lost to Pacific Heat by a nose in a Friday, leaving Gilchrist and winning trainer Lloyd Mason very happy. Vicarino and Pacific Heat were in another area code from the rest of the 2-year-olds in the field. Both rated off the pace and finished strongly.

Pacific Heat was coming off a wire-to-wire maiden win, so the fact he rated was important, Mason said.

"We definitely made the right decision," Mason said. "He could have gone to the lead, but would he have been as strong at the end? I doubt it."

Baze credited Pacific Heat with a good performance.

"He dug in tough to beat me," Baze said. "My colt was extremely gallant. If he'd had a perfect trip, he would have won, but we had to steady just a little bit down the backstretch, and that made the difference."

In addition to the three talented runners he rode for Gilchrist, Baze was also aboard Show Me Your Money, a half-brother of Grade 2 winner Trickey Trevor, who won his debut with ease Friday.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer paid only $45,000 for Show Me Your Money.

"I found him in Florida," Hollendorfer said. "People didn't like him because he was big and heavy and looked like he might have problems."

He did, but he also showed he could run with a daylight victory Friday, which Baze said was accomplished "well within himself."

Memorial for Lost in the Fog

At a Lost in the Fog memorial at Golden Gate Fields Saturday, fans got a chance to express their appreciation to Aleo, Gilchrist, Baze, and the colt's veterinarian, Dr. Don Smith.

Gilchrist told the fans, "For the first time in my life, I'm lost for words," then gave an eloquent speech, thanking fans for their kindness and concern after it was learned the Eclipse Sprint champion had been stricken with cancer. Lost in the Fog was euthanized Sept. 18.

"We all were touched by greatness," Gilchrist said. "You're, as fans, as much a part of this story as any of us.

"Remember Lost in the Fog for what he was. He was a great champion and had all the qualities of a great champion. A lot of us can learn from Lost in the Fog."

Two large flower arrangements in the form of horseshoes were in the grassy area between the paddock and winner's circle. The horseshoes were orange with black at the top, Aleo's colors. The inscription read: "For a warrior and a champion. We love you 'Lost in the Fog' from the fans of Barbaro."

A third floral arrangement had the inscription "Champion Forever."

Bonfante only a maybe

Saturday's $75,000 Fort Mason, a five-furlong turf race for Cal-breds, could be a one-horse race if Bonfante enters. He seems head and shoulders above the other 12 nominees.

Trainer Steve Specht passed on last Saturday's one-mile Presidio for Cal-breds with Bonfante to run in the Fort Mason, but Bonfante came down with a temperature late last week and may not run.

"He was doing super, then the next morning, he was running a 102-degree temperature and left some food," Specht said.

Bonfante worked a slow half-mile in 51.20 on Wednesday.

* Racing resumes Friday with fillies and mares spotlighted in a $50,000 optional claimer at one mile on the turf that includes Tight Circle, coming off a win at the same level. This time she runs for a tag against Miss Rainier, the runner-up last time, and Snowdrop, who won her only start on turf.