08/10/2005 11:00PM

Smokume still smokin'


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The dominoes that began to fall on Thursday when the connections of Better Talk Now decided they would rather run in the Arlington Million than Saratoga's Sword Dancer eventually impacted jockey Chantal Sutherland. Ramon Dominguez, who was to ride Better Talk Now at Saratoga, replaced Sutherland on Vangelis in the Sword Dancer. But Sutherland still has a chance to shine in a nationally televised stakes race on Saturday at Saratoga, when she rides likely favorite Smokume in the Grade 2, $200,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap for sprinters.

Sutherland has been aboard Smokume four times, and they have won three races, including the Grade 2 Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont on July 17. Her association with Smokume extends to morning training hours, and trainer Allen Jerkens credited Sutherland with having Smokume come back better than ever this year.

"She's got him galloping good," Jerkens said at his Saratoga stable. "He used to be pretty tough to gallop. She's pretty good."

has won on both fast and sloppy tracks, so if the heat wave that has descended over Saratoga results in an afternoon shower, Smokume should be one of the beneficiaries.

"He's run on all kinds of tracks," Jerkens said. "He doesn't seem like he needs any special track. He was going a little funny in one of his knees last year, so we turned him out on a farm. Most horses, if you give them a chance, they do better."

Six others entered the six-furlong Vanderbilt, including , who set a track record for six furlongs at Churchill Downs when he won the Aristides Breeders' Cup Handicap on June 25. Kelly's Landing, a 4-year-old who had raced just twice before this year, is seeking his third straight victory.

"He's a very big horse, so he probably wasn't at his best at 3," his trainer, Eddie Kenneally, said Thursday morning at his barn. "He's matured. Just because of his large size, it took him a long time to fully develop. He's pretty versatile, but he's probably better when he's in a race loaded with speed and he can stalk."

might have the most early speed. He returned from a nine-month layoff July 13 to finish second in a money allowance at Woodbine. He should be tighter for his second start of the year.

beat allowance company at Belmont Park in his U.S. debut, and earlier this year was third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Pomeroy captured the King's Bishop here last year, and comes off a win in a fourth-level allowance at Monmouth.