09/29/2006 12:00AM

Smokey Stover gets some race action


Trainer Greg Gilchrist calls Smokey Stover "the most over-trained 3-year-old in California."

A 3-year-old gelding, Smokey Stover has run four times since he won his debut by 2 1/2 lengths Feb. 12. He has never been worse than second, and he won a stakes in his third start, the Stinson Beach on April 2.

But after that stakes victory, Gilchrist gave Smokey Stover 12 works before finding a race for him at Del Mar nearly four months later.

"It's a tribute to him that he's still going," said Gilchrist of Smokey Stover, who has basically not missed a work since last November.

On Sunday, Smokey Stover gets his first chance to run in northern California since he won the Stinson Beach. He'll take on four rivals in a $50,000 optional claimer at six furlongs.

"At least we're in," said Gilchrist. "It is nice not to have to travel to get to run in the second condition."

Brite Maneuvers, last year's Cal Cup Juvenile winner, will make his first start since finishing third in the Sunshine Millions Dash on Jan. 28. The sharp Prison Bound, recently claimed Jeffries Bay, and stakes-placed The Pharaoh round out the field.

Gilchrist said he believes Smokey Stover can handle two turns as well as sprint distances. But he'd simply like to get a win for Smokey Stover before he makes plans to try him long.

"We've been waiting to do more all along," Gilchrist said. "If we were in a different part of the country, I think you'd see a much different record with this horse. We're just going to take this one race and hope for a good performance. We need something to build off."

Smokey Stover ran second twice in similar races at Del Mar. He was caught late by Old Man River going 6 1/2 furlongs July 27 and was a fast-finishing second after a nightmare trip at the same distance Aug. 31.

The Aug. 31 race was an especially good performance. Smokey Stover was boxed in and was steadied as he entered the lane, but made a strong move once clear and finished 2 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

"He will travel, as he showed at Del Mar," Gilchrist said.

Smokey Stover drew the rail. He has enough natural speed to grab the lead early but will probably settle for maintaining good position before making a move on the turn and into the lane.