06/07/2004 11:00PM

Smooth as Silver precious find


CHICAGO - Tom Amoss is having a nice little Arlington meet. His satellite operation here, overseen on a day-to-day basis by assistant trainer Chris Richard, has won three races from 10 starters. Down to the south, the Amoss stable is going crazy. At Churchill Downs, where he keeps the bulk of the horses he trains, Amoss has hit a hot streak, and through June 7 he had 17 winners there, ranking second in a very deep trainer colony.

The winning could drift north Thursday, when the Amoss-trained Smooth as Silver starts as the likely favorite in Arlington's featured eighth race.

Amoss began training Smooth as Silver this past winter at Fair Grounds, when the owner Temple Webber privately purchased the horse. What spurred the buy was a romping entry-level allowance victory, a win that bears directly upon the Thursday feature.

First, the horse that finished a distant second to Smooth as Silver that day was Cold Truth, and since he appears to be the second choice here Thursday, Smooth as Silver looks all the better. Secondly, this is the first time since the Fair Grounds blowout that Smooth as Silver races at six furlongs. Smooth as Silver has won going longer, but the guess is his quick kick in one-turn races is most powerful at this trip. The apprentice rider James Graham is assigned the task of timing the horse's move and finding room. So far at Arlington, Graham has made many good decisions. Through last weekend, he had 11 wins at the meet, a strong start for a rider unfamiliar to local horsemen before May.

Cold Truth, claimed for $50,000 out of a narrow loss here May 20, will try to break trainer Ron Shenofsky's surprising drought at Arlington - surprising because Shenofsky's horses could do little wrong this time last meet. With Hurricane Merle and Silent Charge leading the way, Shenofsky tore through June and July. But Silent Charge went down with an injury, and Hurricane Merle is only now getting ready to run, and Shenofsky still is looking for his first winner here.

"I've just gotten off to a slow start at Arlington," Shenofsky said. "Mainly, I got a lot of horses in late, and they haven't been ready."

Cold Truth could start a revival. When Smooth as Silver won their last meeting, Cold Truth broke from the rail and was forced into a speed duel. This time, he has an outside draw and can press the pace or lead, depending on the fractions.

"He's just a real nice horse," Shenofsky said. "He's got a lot of ability."

Key workout for Hazelton duo

Richard Hazelton could have two strong entrants for the Prairie State Festival here June 26. Or not. Workouts this weekend will help determine the status of Shandy, a potential starter in the White Oak Handicap, and Kemp, who could run in the Springfield Stakes.

Shandy, a 4-year-old sprinter, hit peak form this spring, and his win over Silver Bid in the Chicagoland Handicap at Hawthorne looked even better when Silver Bid, one of the top statebred sprinters, returned to win a tough open allowance race at Arlington. But Shandy finished third at odds of 1-2 in a May 3 allowance race at Prairie Meadows, and afterward, Hazelton found out why: Shandy was suffering from a foot abscess. The problem was addressed, and Shandy worked a half-mile on Saturday, but Hazelton wants to see how the colt does in a more taxing breeze before pointing for the White Oak.

Kemp started only once last year at age 2, but still made an impression, winning a statebred maiden sprint by six lengths. Kemp was 2-5 in his 2004 debut, but was beaten 15 lengths.

"He bled pretty bad," Hazelton said. "I'd been pushing him a little."

Kemp quickly rebounded, however, and a strong allowance victory May 22 at Arlington has him on track for a stakes start. "We'll work him and see," Hazelton said. "With the bleeding, I've got to be careful with him."