07/23/2005 12:00AM

Smuggler on top again

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Smuggler, under Edgar Prado, pulls away to a 3 1/2-length victory in the CCA Oaks.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Smuggler's 3-year-old campaign got off to a later start than trainer Shug McGaughey would have preferred. But, she has been well worth the wait.

Smuggler continued her ascension in the 3-year-old filly division by beating graded stakes winners Summerly and Spun Sugar in a Grade 1 race for a second time, taking Saturday's $500,000 by a convincing 3 1/2 lengths at Belmont Park. Summerly, third behind Smuggler in the Mother Goose, finished second, a head in front of Mother Goose runner-up Spun Sugar.

Smuggler, a daughter of Unbridled out of the champion mare Inside Information, is now 3 for 4 this year with a second-place finish in the Acorn. Round Pond, who defeated Smuggler in the Acorn, has been sidelined for the year because of a knee chip. Sweet Catomine, last year's 2-year-old filly champion and this division's early season leader, has been retired.

"We have been looking for a really nice horse for a while,'' said McGaughey, who trains Smuggler for the Phipps Stable. "It looks like we have one now.''

Smuggler received a patient ride from Edgar Prado, who won his meet-best 84th race. Summerly, the Kentucky Oaks winner, set a modest early pace of 25.01 seconds and 49.13 under Jerry Bailey while being pressed from the inside by Spun Sugar, the Black-Eyed Susan winner. Smuggler raced inside of For All We Know until the three-eighths pole when Prado guided her off the fence and outside the two leaders. She took the lead fairly easily in upper stretch and cruised home with Prado simply waving the whip at the filly.

Smuggler ($6.90) covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.39 over a fast but deep track.

"The plan was to break, settle behind the speed and wait, and when we think it's time to go wait a little longer,'' Prado said.

Smuggler didn't make her 3-year-old debut until May 11, missing several major races in the division. McGaughey said Smuggler "had a little orthopedic'' problem in the winter and needed time off.

"I started training her back and she trained better than she trained before,'' McGaughey said.

Smuggler will be pointed to the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga on Aug. 20.

- When Sultry City split horses in deep stretch to win the nightcap, it created one winning pick six ticket. The ticket, purchased in Las Vegas, was worth $213,434.