11/14/2003 12:00AM

Smokume out for four in row


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Coming off a dominant victory against two horses in the Cowdin Stakes, the undefeated Smokume faces only marginally tougher competition Sunday when he faces four rivals in the $75,000 Huntington Stakes at Aqueduct.

Entering the Cowdin, trainer Allen Jerkens had questions about the quality of Smokume. Though he had won his first two starts, Smokume had not overly impressed Jerkens. But in the Cowdin, Smokume rated between horses, took over when roused, and drew clear to a 5 1/4-length victory.

"Even though it was only three horses, he was right between two horses for a while, which was good to see," Jerkens said. "He's pretty genuine. They usually don't win three in a row if they can't run."

Jerkens is taking nothing to chance for the six-furlong Huntington. On Tuesday, he shipped Smokume from Belmont to Aqueduct, where Smokume worked four furlongs in a bullet 46.27 seconds. Jerkens also planned to send Smokume to Aqueduct on Saturday for a schooling session.

Smokume will break from post 4 and carry 122 pounds under Shannon Uske. Smokume will concede four to six pounds to the rest in the field.

"He's got to give away weight," said Jerkens, who won this race in 1996 with Kelly Kip. "Anything but his top effort won't get it done."

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas sends out China Coast, who rebounded from a poor debut to win his maiden by 1 3/4 lengths when he ran on Lasix for the first time on Oct. 11.

"He's got a world of talent, but he's got a lot of quirks," said Peter Hutton, assistant to Lukas. "He's by Coronado's Quest out of a Storm Cat mare. He should be a serial killer. If this guy steps up and improves and shows the talent we know he's got, he'll be tough to beat. I just don't trust him yet."

Hutton noted that the day before China Coast won his maiden, he wouldn't come out of the round pen. "We had to take the whole thing down to get him out," Hutton said.

Richard Migliore, who has won 22 stakes in New York this year, takes over for Jorge Chavez as rider. China Coast breaks from the rail.

Tap Day, trained by Mark Hennig, is a possible upsetter. A son of Pleasant Tap, Tap Day is 2 for 2 since getting Lasix and comes off a half-length victory in the M. Tyson Gilpin Stakes at Delaware Park on Oct. 18.

Maryland-based Excellent Band is 2 for 3 and comes off a 5 1/2-length win in an entry-level allowance race at Delaware on Oct. 29.