05/11/2004 11:00PM

Smokume will go hard from gate

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Kelly Kip was one of the fastest horses to ever run in New York, and it's only fitting that the New York Racing Association has named a race after the multiple stakes winner, who holds the track record for five furlongs at Belmont Park.

The $60,000-added Kelly Kip is the feature on Friday's twilight racing card and drew nine 3-year-olds, none of whom has won a graded stakes. Among the horses entered in the 6 1/2-furlong Kelly Kip is Smokume, who is trained by Allen Jerkens, Kelly Kip's trainer. Smokume, like Kelly Kip, is owned and was bred by Hobeau Farm.

Jerkens has fond memories of Kelly Kip, who stands stud in New York at Highcliff Farm.

"He was exceptional," Jerkens said. "He always seemed like he had an extra gear."

is also fleet-footed. On May 5, over Belmont's training track, Smokume sizzled in a half-mile work in 45.61 seconds, the fastest of 30 works at the distance. Jerkens said the work was "a little too fast," but he wasn't overly concerned because the move came nine days before the Kelly Kip.

The last time Smokume ran at Belmont, he won the 6 1/2-furlong Cowdin Stakes in October by 5 1/4 lengths in the slop. Since the Cowdin, Smokume has lost four starts in stakes.

In Smokume's last start, in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct on April 10, Jerkens instructed the gelding's regular rider, apprentice Shannon Uske, to rate the horse. Smokume finished fourth, beaten 13 1/2 lengths by Forest Danger, who set the pace.

"That didn't work; he won't be rated [on Friday]," Jerkens said. Uske rides Smokume from post 4.

could be a serious factor following a poor performance around two turns in the Grade 2 Lexington at Keeneland on April 17. Bride's Best Boy is undefeated in two sprints and has trained well since the Lexington.

Smokume, Indian War Dance, Tiger, and the undefeated Wild Wildcat are front-runners and their presence should aid the chances of Bride's Best Boy.

Tiger set fast fractions on his way to a 5 1/2-length maiden win at Aqueduct over a muddy track on April 3 with the addition of blinkers.

Indian War Dance tried to match strides with Forest Danger in the early stages of the Bay Shore and wound up finishing third. Lissau makes his first start since finishing second in the Cowdin.

Stakes winner Baldomera, the lone filly in the field, appears overmatched. Knight of Darkness and John's Interview complete the field.