07/21/2002 12:00AM

Strike Smartly takes Chinese Cultural Center


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Strike Smartly nailed entrymate Quiet Resolve on the wire to capture his first stakes on Sunday at Woodbine in the $336,300 Chinese Cultural Center, formerly the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy Stakes.

Strike Smartly raced about five lengths off the lead on the backstretch, as the more accomplished Quiet Resolve dueled with New York invader Speed of Light through moderate fractions. Quiet Resolve assumed command in the stretch, and seemed headed for a comfortable victory, but Strike Smartly rallied in the final furlong to prevail by a head.

"This was a huge race for this horse today," said Laurie Gulas, who rode Strike Smartly. "As soon as he saw daylight in the stretch, he kicked right on. What a rush!"

Strike Smartly, a half-brother to 1991 Canadian Horse of the Year Dance Smartly, earned $201,780 for Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad. The favored entry returned $3.20 to win.

Muntej finished two lengths back in third in the nine-horse field. The final time of 2:13.16 equaled the course record.