03/12/2007 11:00PM

Stakes pair headed south


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Bwana Bull and Smokey Stover, last weekend's stakes winners at Bay Meadows, may make their next appearance on the same day at Santa Anita.

Bwana Bull completed a California Derby-El Camino Real Derby sweep on Saturday to remain on the Kentucky Derby trail. His next start will probably be in either the Santa Anita Derby or the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne. Both races will be run April 7.

Smokey Stover had little trouble winning his first graded stakes race, the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint on Sunday, and will run in the Carter at Aqueduct on April 7, Potrero Grande at Santa Anita on April 7, or the Count Fleet at Oaklawn on April 13.

Bwana Bull's trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, and Smokey Stover's trainer, Greg Gilchrist, sounded as if Santa Anita is the likely location for their horses' next race.

Bwana Bull's victory in the 1 1/16-mile El Camino was more decisive than the one-length margin suggests. He ran his final sixteenth in 6.32 seconds and galloped out strongly as if extra distance would be no problem.

Bwana Bull was back farther than usual early. He moved into contention approaching the stretch, but jockey Russell Baze said the colt didn't seem as if he would go on. But Baze went to a left-hand whip and woke him up.

"Before we hit the stretch, I cracked him, and, once he changed leads, he took off," said Baze, who kept working the left-handed whip. "Once he got going, I knew he'd carry it all the way to the wire."

Hollendorfer said the El Camino was a crucial test for Bwana Bull.

"I wanted to win," he said. "In a race like this, you have to win to go on."

Hollendorfer sent two of his best 3-year-olds, Event of the Year in 1998 and Globalize in 2000, to Turfway Park for what was intended to be their final Derby prep, but injuries prevented either horse from running in the Derby. But Turfway had a conventional surface back then and now has a synthetic surface. Churchill Downs has a conventional dirt surface.

"Some who need graded money might run there, but if you have the money, you might want to keep your horse on dirt to prepare for the Derby," Hollendorfer said.

Cause to Believe was a distant third in the Illinois Derby last year for Hollendorfer, and then ran 13th in the Derby.

By sending Bwana Bull to Santa Anita, Hollendorfer would get a definitive answer to the question of whether his horse is a true Kentucky Derby contender.

"I'm not limiting my possibilities, but the Santa Anita Derby has historically been a good test to continue," Hollendorfer said. "If you win that, you are a legitimate contender."

Smokey Stover likes Santa Anita

Smokey Stover, ranked the No. 1 sprinter on Daily Racing Form's Watchmaker Watch, lived up to his billing with an easy victory in the Bay Meadows BC, a race that was a virtual setup for him.

He sat just off pacesetter Trickey Trevor early, pulled away in the lane, and was not seriously challenged, even though the gallant Britt's Jules cut the margin of victory to one length.

Smokey Stover had come into the race after earning a 113 Beyer Speed Figure for winning the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita. Jockey Aaron Gryder said that Smokey Stover did not bounce off the race, though his Beyer did decline slightly to a 106.

"He's very promising," said Gryder. "It looks like he's getting stronger and better with every race."

Gilchrist is likely to choose the Potrero Grande over the Count Fleet or the Carter because Smokey Stover likes the track at Santa Anita and the 6 1/2-furlong distance is "just right," he said. Plus, it would allow Smokey Stover to stay at home in Northern California until he ships down.

El Don possible for Luck of the Irish

This Saturday's card features the $50,000 Luck of the Irish Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Fifteen older runners were nominated, including El Don, who won the 2005 California Turf Championship and the 2006 San Matean over the course.

Capitano, My Creed, and Stormin Away, each coming off a stakes victory, and Me My Mine are the other stakes winners nominated.

Kendra Rae has good shot to repeat

Six 3-year-old fillies meet in Thursday's feature, a six-furlong $40,000 starter allowance race.

Kendra Rae comes off a game victory in her first race for a tag and could be the one to beat. She had faced the likes of Glorification, Quite a Rush, and Black Pulpit before running for a tag.

California Laura steps up off a claim. Navy Lass was second and Surley Temple third in their first attempt at this level. Paradise won her debut for an $8,000 tag. Shezaluckypenny rounds out the field.

* Friday marks the return of Friday's Alive evening cards with $1 general admission, programs, beer, hot dogs, and sodas, plus a concert with Tainted Love. The track will come back on St. Patrick's Day with $1 general admission, programs, beer, hot dogs, and sodas.