04/20/2006 11:00PM

Smokey Stover may come cross-country for Withers


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Last year, the northern California-based trainer Greg Gilchrist racked up the frequent flier miles with his champion sprinter Lost in the Fog. Gilchrist may be ready to hit the road again with his current speedy 3-year-old, Smokey Stover.

Smokey Stover, a winner of 2 of 3 starts, all at Golden Gate Fields, is under consideration to run in next Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.

Gilchrist on Friday said Smokey Stover is "50-50" for the race, though he does have a plane on order for Tuesday.

"If he's going to be a decent horse, he's going to have to learn to travel," Gilchrist said Friday from Golden Gate, where Smokey Stover worked five furlongs in 1:01.80. "If I think it's a lot of expense and time and travel for nothing, then I don't want to do it."

Judging by Smokey Stover's first three starts - and a likely short field in the Withers - Gilchrist does not appear to be wasting his time by shipping here.

Smokey Stover won his debut by 2 1/2 lengths on Feb. 12, covering six furlongs in 1:09.33 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 90. A month later, in a first-level allowance race, he was beaten a neck in a race that went in 1:08.37. On April 2, Smokey Stover romped to a seven-length victory in the Stinson Beach Stakes, earning a Beyer of 105.

Gilchrist said he believes Smokey Stover should be undefeated. Gilchrist said jockey Macario Rodriguez tried to overcome a slow start in the allowance by putting Smokey Stover in a drive from the outset.

"If he had just sat on him for the first quarter or three-eighths he would have had something to finish with," Gilchrist said. "He drove him for three quarters of a mile. There are not many [horses] that can do that."

Gilchrist said he believes Smokey Stover wants to go farther than six furlongs, and the one-turn mile of the Withers would be a "pretty good spot to try something like that."

Others under consideration to run in the Withers are Diabolical, Doc Cheney, Fabulous Strike, and Luxembourg.

Many options for Gold and Roses

Though Gold and Roses is in career form and is 3 for 4 over Aqueduct's main track, he is no lock to run in next Sunday's $65,000 Kings Point Handicap for New York-breds.

Trainer Tom Bush said he doesn't think that 1 1/8 miles is the best distance for Gold and Roses, he fears being assigned too much weight by racing secretary P.J. Campo, and there are other more lucrative alternatives. Bush is also considering the $150,000 Vigil Stakes at Woodbine at seven furlongs next Saturday or the Grade 3, $100,000 Westchester on May 3, opening day of the Belmont spring/summer meet.

"If he puts a lot of weight on Gold and Roses, I probably wouldn't run him because he's suspect at a mile and an eighth anyway," Bush said.

There are 15 New York-breds nominated to the Kings Point, including Funny Cide, who is under consideration to run. Other nominees include Galloping Grocer, Spite the Devil, Touchdown Kid, West Virginia, and Win With Beck.

Regal Engagement may go to Pimlico

Bush is considering running Comely Stakes runner-up Regal Engagement in the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on May 19.

Bush said he felt Regal Engagement could have won the Grade 2 Comely if Eibar Coa had waited a little longer to let the filly run. Regal Engagement split horses entering the far turn, made the lead around the turn, but could not hold off Miraculous Miss in the stretch. Regal Engagement was beaten only 1 1/4 lengths.

"I like the timing, I'm trying to space her races out because she's a late foal," Bush said.

Meanwhile, Steve Klesaris, the trainer of Miraculous Miss, said he is still leaning towards running his filly in the Acorn on June 10, but still has not ruled out the Kentucky Oaks just yet.