06/12/2002 11:00PM

Smokin Tempo tries to show she's no one-hit wonder

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Seven fillies will run in Saturday's $55,000-added Time to Leave Stakes, the first 2-year-old stakes of the year at Bay Meadows.

Trainer Ed Moger Jr. will saddle Smokin Tempo for longtime owners Curt and Lila Lanning.

A $30,000 yearling purchase at last year's Barretts sale, Smokin Tempo won her debut in a $40,000 claimer at Hollywood Park on May 23.

"Purses are better down there," said Moger, who often takes young horses to Southern California. "That was only a $40,000 claimer, but she got $12,600 for the win."

Hollywood Park, says Moger, "is a lot better place to run" because of the number of 2-year-old races available early in the spring. Races fill more frequently there, so trainers have more chances to run.

Smokin Tempo can run. In her win, she was a head behind the early leader, moved into the lead in the stretch, and pulled away for a 2 1/2-length victory.

Moger doesn't consider Smokin Tempo a one-hit wonder.

"Lots of times, horses run their best the first time, but they're usually skinny little things," Moger said. "Usually, a horse with substance improves."

Moger believes Smokin Tempo has some substance.

"She's pretty competitive, and she's got some speed," he said. "I know there's a couple tough fillies in here, but she's very healthy right now. She's eating good and looking good.

"She's training a little better since she won. We schooled her on Wednesday and she did well."

The Lannings are one of the biggest supporters of racing in northern California, buying a number of yearlings every year.

The Lannings and Moger prefer yearlings to 2-year-olds at sales.

"If a 2-year-old works good, you pay too much for them, and you don't want to buy the ones who can't run," Moger said. "A filly like ours, who looks so good, you'd pay $80,000 or $100,000 if she were a 2-year-old at a sale. They're too pricey, the ones that work good, and, with a yearling, you don't pay an arm and a leg."

Another reason the Lannings and Moger prefer yearlings is that 2-year-olds sometimes have injuries that are not immediately apparent.

"If you have a yearling you've brought up from the start, you know if they have problems and know how to work around them," Moger said.

The Lannings usually buy yearlings in the $10,000 range, but both they and Moger were taken by Smokin Tempo, a daughter of Smokester.

"She's a real pretty horse," Moger said. "She's really correct. She looked good and looked like she could run."

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