02/10/2010 12:00AM

Smooth Air back with Stutts


If it appears that trainer Bennie Stutts has a little extra bounce to his step these days, the explanation is simple: Smooth Air is back in the barn.

Smooth Air began his career with Stutts before being transferred to Chad Brown last spring following his second-place finish in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. Following a pair of disappointing efforts that included a sixth-place finish as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade 1 Whitney last summer at Saratoga, Smooth Air was sent to the farm with a hairline fracture of the pelvis. He returned to Stutts at his Calder base two weeks ago.

Smooth Air earned more than $1 million and was a two-time Grade 2 winner during his first tenure with Stutts. A homebred owned by Mt. Joy Stables, Smooth Air captured the Ohio Derby at 3 and the Gulfstream Park Handicap here last winter. He also was second behind Big Brown in the 2008 Florida Derby.

"He looks like the same horse to me as when he left," Stutts said. "He'll probably have his first work down here on Sunday, and I plan to start him back the same way I did last year, on the turf, with the Appleton perhaps the spot if we can make it."

The Grade 3 Appleton will be run as part of the Florida Derby undercard on March 20.

High hopes for Tottie, Day of Destiny

Although he no longer has Smooth Air in his barn, Brown is certainly not wanting for good horses. Brown showed off a couple of the newer members of his stable Saturday when he captured the Grade 3 Suwannee River with Tottie and a maiden special weight dash with the promising 3-year-old Day of Destiny.

Tottie is now perfect in two starts since shipping from England and making her U.S. debut here earlier in the meet. Unlike in her first local appearance when she circled the field and rallied from far back, Tottie pressed a slower pace before outlasting Cable to post a three-quarter-length decision in the Suwannee River.

"She's a nice filly, and the timing was right to bring her back in the stakes," said Brown who trains Tottie for owner J.H. Richmond-Watson. "But now she's had two races in four weeks, so we'll take a step back with her. The big money is in the summer, so we'll just give her a little time and map out a campaign for the rest of the year."

Brown is just as eager to move forward with Day of Destiny, who encountered much trouble in his debut here last month before winning his maiden at second asking.

"He's a horse with a lot of talent who hadn't had any luck either getting to the races or in his first start, but he finally showed what he could do on Saturday," Brown said. "I think I'd like to stretch him out, probably to a mile, for his next start."

Brown also reported that his 2008 Breeders' Cup winner Maram has just returned to training after suffering "a little hind-end issue" following her sixth-place finish in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

"We gave her 60 days off, but she's back jogging with me now at Palm Meadows, although she's still a ways off from running," Brown said.

Bredar serving as jockey agent

Doug Bredar, who served as racing secretary here last season and most recently as assistant racing secretary during the Hialeah Quarter Horse meet, is now a jockey agent. Bredar will handle the engagements of Florent Geroux, a 23-year-old native of France who rode with a good measure of success last summer in Chicago before being sidelined by an injury suffered last fall at Churchill Downs.

Geroux, who is the roommate of Eclipse Award-winning jockey Julien Leparoux, has won 73 races since coming to the United States and will accept his first mount of the meet on Saturday aboard An Awesome Dream for trainer Daniel Switzer.