01/10/2008 12:00AM

Smooth Bid tough under red-hot rider


Jockey Casey Lambert has been on a roll in New Mexico stakes races the last month and a half, and he can keep his momentum going Saturday when he rides leading contender Smooth Bid in the $50,000 Winsham Lad Handicap at Sunland Park.

The one-mile race drew a well-matched field of 10 older horses, including defending champ Guiding Hand. Other notables in the field are stakes winners Don't Strike Out, Rollicking Caller, Plug Me In, and Mr. Pursuit.

Lambert's stakes success of late includes wins in the Distance Championship and Chavez County at Zia Park, and the Bold Ego and Albert Dominguez Memorial at Sunland. In the Dominguez on Sunday, Lambert rode the 2,500th winner of his career. When he rode Some Ghost to victory in the Dominguez, for New Mexico-breds, it was the horse's third win in that race.

In the Winsham Lad, Smooth Bid is moving back to dirt after finishing third in the $28,000 Buffalo Bayou, an overnight turf stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on Dec. 8. The last time Smooth Bid ran on the main track, it was May 10 at Lone Star Park, when he won an off-the-turf optional claimer by seven lengths.

Steve Asmussen trains Smooth Bid, and co-owns the horse with Dakota Stables.

Guiding Hand won last year's Winsham Lad on the front end and figures to be prominent again Saturday. He last raced on Dec. 9, and, after dueling, finished third in the $186,000 Distance Championship at Zia.

"He ran his eyeballs out," said Chris Hartman, who trains Guiding Hand for Frontier Stable. "He got hooked on the lead."

Since the Distance Championship, the race's third-place finisher, Red Rock Creek, returned to win a $10,000 starter allowance next out at Fair Grounds on Jan. 1. For his 4 3/4-length win, the horse earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 87.

Guiding Hand will be ridden by Jake Barton.