10/10/2008 11:00PM

Smooth Air's slow time irrelevant


MIAMI - At first glance, Smooth Air's final time of 1:42.20 for his one-mile work on Saturday may not appear the type of drill one would expect from a horse just two weeks away from a start in the Breeders' Cup Classic. But coming over a Calder surface that has been slow and cuppy enough to produce final-furlong fractions of 14 seconds and change and even 15 seconds in sprint races here this past week, that 1:42 may be better than one might think.

With regular work rider Jodi Gelb aboard and breaking off, as he customarily does for mile works, a sixteenth of a mile past the wire, Smooth Air posted fractions of 25.83, 50.99, and 1:16.09 before tiring a bit under pressure down the stretch. By comparison, the two other mile works here Saturday were clocked in 1:48 and 1:49.60.

"I thought he'd go a little faster but the track is just so slow that, everything considered, 1:42 isn't bad," said trainer Bennie Stutts. Jr. "I wanted him to get a little tired and he was blowing when he came back to the barn, which means he got a lot out of the work. But what's most important is that he cooled out fine."

Stutts said he plans to work Smooth Air a mile once again on Friday, one day before he boards a non-stop flight out of Miami for Los Angeles.

"I got time," said Stutts. "Two weeks yet. I like to also two-minute lick him between works so he'll probably come back and two-minute lick on Thursday and do the same once he gets to California."

Stutts has had to deal with some foot issues Smooth Air suffered this summer after training over the artificial surface at Arlington Park. But he said he has kept them in check by using bonded pads with Queens Plates shoes to protect his horse's tender feet.

"When he first trained at Arlington for the Ohio Derby I thought it was the greatest track in the world but what hurt my horse was continuing to train over it," said Stutts. "Fortunately, I've checked with some blacksmiths who are shoeing horses for the new track at Santa Anita and they've advised me to just keep on using what I'm using on him here. Not to change a thing, which makes me very happy."

Shippers en route for stakes

Smooth Air is nominated for the Grade 3 Spend a Buck Handicap here Saturday and was weighted two pounds behind Gottcha Gold, the 2007 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile runner-up, the probable starting highweight under 121 pounds.

Among his competition will be the well-traveled Judith's Wild Rush, who has already shipped here with trainer Julian Canet.

Saturday's Grade 3 Miami Mile figures to come up an even stronger race, led by 120-pound highweight Soldier's Dancer. Among the invaders expected to test the locally based favorite are Wise River, who arrived here Saturday, and Honest Trip.

Trainers Steve Asmussen and Mike Gorham confirmed they intend to send 2-year-olds for Saturday's main event, the $400,000 In Reality Stakes, which features Big Drama's bid to sweep the open division of the Florida Stallion series.

Asmussen is expected to bring his multiple stakes-placed Dryden for the 1 1/16-mile In Reality while Gorham has the undefeated and untested Slew of Smoke, who has won his only two starts by a combined 27 lengths.