03/11/2007 12:00AM

Smokey Stover wins third straight


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Heavily favored Smokey Stover ($2.40) accomplished one new thing with his facile victory in the $100,000 Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Bay Meadows on Sunday.

The 4-year-old, who has six victories and four seconds in 10 starts, won his third straight, recording his first graded-stakes victory.

“Off that big effort in the Sunshine Millions Sprint, you might look for him to regress, but he didn’t,” said winning jockey Aaron Gryder.

Smokey Stover sat behind Trickey Trevor early, pulled away in the stretch and was never really asked to do much running. Britt’s Jules made up some ground in the stretch, closing to within one length, but the margin was deceiving, and the victory easier than that margin might indicate. The winning time was 1:08.40.

“It was a race we were supposed to win,” winning trainer Greg Gilchrist said. “I’m not denigrating the other horses, but our horse is really good right now, and he proved it.

“Eight-and-two is good. Being drawn outside gives you some flexibility to let someone else do the work early. I knew Jerry (Hollendorfer) would send Trickey Trevor to make the race. If there was one place in the race that was a concern for me, it was at the head of the lane. With Trickey Trevor on the lead and getting weight, you just hope you haven’t given him too much rope. Once they went by, I knew that they’d be looking at his butt the rest of the way.”

Gilchrist said the Carter at Aqueduct, Portrero Grande at Santa Anita or Count Fleet at Oaklawn were the next likely target for Smokey Stover.

The victory, worth $55,000, lifted Smokey Stover’s career earnings to $349,725 for owner Harry Aleo.