02/02/2007 12:00AM

Smokey Stover emerges as crack sprinter

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - When Smokey Stover sped to victory at Santa Anita in the Sunshine Millions Sprint, his success was notable for the quality of his defeated opponents, which included major stakes winners Proud Tower Too and Bordonaro.

And in running the six furlongs in 1:08.03, Smokey Stover earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 111, the highest figure of the Sunshine Millions series and the highest number by a sprinter so far in 2007. While that

figure will be exceeded during the year, Smokey Stover has laid claim to a position of eminence within the ranks of serious sprint specialists.

This is not an unfamiliar position for owner Harry Aleo and trainer Greg Gilchrist, who owned and trained Lost in the Fog, the Eclipse Award winner as champion sprinter in 2005.

And also like Lost in the Fog, Smokey Stover was bred in Florida.

The dark brown gelding is by the interesting young stallion Put It Back and was bred by Arthur Appleton, whose Bridlewood Farm stands Put It Back.

Although initially developed as a homebreeding operation, the Appleton family's program has adopted a more commercial approach over the past few years, and the multiple Grade 1 winner Southern Image was among their first entirely commercial consignment at the juvenile sales in 2002. The son of Jolie's Halo brought $300,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March auction of 2-year-olds in training and then earned more than $1.8 million during his racing career.

Bridlewood Farm's general manager, George Isaacs, said: "Our revised business plan is working, and we are putting the profits back into the farm to make ourselves an even better commercial operation."

As part of the farm's continuing commercial realignment, Smokey Stover was sold at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training in May of 2005.

Consigned by Bridlewood, the dark brown son of Put It Back was Hip No. 422. On the sale's breeze day at Timonium, Smokey Stover (who at the time was named Return the Halo) worked a furlong in 10.60 seconds. In that effort, Smokey Stover showed a stride length of 24.78 feet and earned a BreezeFig of 68, which was the seventh-highest fig of the day, according to information provided by the stride analysis group DataTrack International.

Smokey Stover was clocked at 44 miles per hour, and he could clearly motor. Even though Smokey Stover was from the first crop of Put It Back, the 2-year-old caught the attention of buyers.

A leggy and athletic youngster, he was a very nice prospect.

"We loved him in that 2-year-old crop and thought he might be the star of the crop," Isaacs said.

With all these factors in his favor, Smokey Stover proved to be one of the highlights of the auction, bringing $140,000, which was the highest price for any juvenile in training by Put It Back in 2005.

Out of 34 foals from the first crop by Put It Back, Smokey Stover is one of three stakes winners from that crop of 2003. The early leader of the crop was the quick juvenile In Summation, who won four stakes at 2, including the Affirmed and Dr. Fager divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes series for colts.

From his second crop, which just turned 3, Put It Back has the stakes winner Secretsoftheheart and two stakes-placed runners, all fillies.

The volume of stakes performers "is having a positive effect on his book," Isaacs said, "with about 100 or so mares expected for his 2007 book. The horse has had a solid group of breeders who have bred to him every year, and he's got a good crop coming this year."

Put It Back, a fast son of Metropolitan Handicap winner Honour and Glory (by the In Reality stallion Relaunch), is the type of young stallion who should appeal to the Florida market. Isaacs described him as "a big, strong, correct horse with a world of speed."

And Put It Back won five of his seven starts, with a second and a third. His best victory came in the Grade 2 Riva Ridge Stakes at Belmont at seven furlongs, and his best offspring have capitalized on their natural speed.

Smokey Stover is out of Milady's Halo, by Jolie's Halo, who stood at Bridlewood before his sale to Japan. Jolie's Halo was a very useful stallion during his time in the States, and Milady's Halo was one of his solid, allowance-class daughters. She won four races from 14 starts and earned $91,285.

A half-sister to Grade 3 stakes winner Galic Boy, who earned more than a half-million dollars, Milady's Halo is out of the Fappiano mare Milaoshu. This mare was not a winner but was a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Great Neck (by Tentam), who won the Canadian International, and to Pink Turtle, a listed winner in France who was second in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille.

Isaacs said that Milady's Halo "is a gorgeous individual, dark bay with a blaze. Smokey Stover favors her a lot. This was a great match of physical types, and it has worked to perfection in Smokey Stover."

Milady's Halo produced three winners prior to Smokey Stover and then was barren the next year. Her

2-year-old is a full brother to Smokey Stover.

Unfortunately, the mare had a dead foal in 2006. However, she got right back in foal for 2007 on an April cover to Stormy Atlantic, the leading juvenile sire of 2006, and will be bred back to him.