05/25/2006 11:00PM

Smooth Rocket takes next step

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Smooth Rocket looks for her second win in as many starts here at Assiniboia Downs in Sunday's featured seventh race, a second-level allowance with a claiming option of $16,000 for fillies and mares at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Trained by Lorna Gray, Smooth Rocket dueled with Vicar's Daughter before drawing off to win a first-level allowance race by 3 1/2 lengths in her local debut on May 7. Vicar's Daughter returned to win a first-level allowance last Monday by four lengths.

Smooth Rocket will likely duel early with Cobra's Princess in Sunday's race. Trained by Mike Nault, Cobra's Princess finished third against $8,000 claimers in her seasonal debut on May 7. She returned a week later to take a race at this level with a strong front-end performance.

Borntobeloved, Cindy Embers, On Wild Ground, and Vying Vixen all finished behind Cobra's Princess at this level on May 14. It was the first race of the year for all four. Borntobeloved fared the best, finishing second. Cindy Embers ended third, On Wild Ground fourth, and Vying Vixen sixth.

The field rounds out with Pete's Surprise, who makes her first start since July of last year. A three-time stakes winner, Pete's Surprise finished a close third at this level in her 2005 debut.

* Smooth Rocket, Cobra's Princess, and On Wild Ground also are among the nominees for the $40,000 La Verendrye Stakes, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares here June 4. The other La Verendrye nominees are Dark Nova, Early Approval, Ericka's Lass, Hold on Heather, Kathern's Cat, Lt. Regent, Pine Falls, Proudest Queen, Remiewaterbluz, Rowan Express, Siberian Falstaff, and Vicar's Daughter.