04/09/2007 12:00AM

Tiago's win bodes well for Smith's future


ARCADIA, Calif. - Even before he won Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby aboard Tiago, jockey Mike Smith had decided to return to Southern California later this month. Now, Smith is hoping that Tiago's upset win will give him momentum for a successful spring and summer at Hollywood Park and Del Mar.

Smith made the decision to relocate from the East Coast to California earlier this month after talking with two trainers who will support his return.

"Jim Cassidy and John Shirreffs asked me to come back out," he said.

Smith said he will resume riding in California full time on April 18. He has not ridden regularly here since the 2005 meeting at Del Mar, where he won 8 races from 77 mounts.

This year, Smith has had 14 wins from 125 mounts through Saturday.

"It was a little slow this winter," Smith said.

Tiago's upset win has been the highlight of the year for Smith, 41. Smith is hopeful that Tiago, a half-brother to 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, can run well in the Kentucky Derby on May 5. Smith rode Giacomo in the Kentucky Derby for the same people behind Tiago - owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs.

Smith traveled to California on April 1 to ride Tiago in his final prerace workout for the Santa Anita Derby.

"I was I glad I came out to get on him," Smith said. "I got to know him a little better."

In the Santa Anita Derby, Tiago rallied from ninth in a field of 10 to win by a half-length at 29-1. The Santa Anita Derby was Tiago's first stakes win.

"With this race, it shows the ability is there, and I think the race should move him up," Smith said. "He's only run four times. He didn't pull up in distress. If he had his head down after the race and would have been blowing, it would have been tough, but he didn't. That's a good sign."

Lewis decides to stay for a while

Nearly five months after arriving from New York, trainer Lisa Lewis said over the weekend that she plans to remain in California for the time being, and not return to the East Coast. Her decision comes at a time when her stable is in its best form of the year.

Lewis has won five races at this meeting from 30 starters. She has only 12 horses in training.

"My goal was to win five," she said. "They're running good now. When we came to Hollywood, I shouldn't have run right away."

Lewis said that she is concerned about the size of her stable, and that many of her owners live on the East Coast. She has 12 horses in training, but would prefer to have 18 to 20.

Lewis, who turns 38 on Sunday, has a contender for one of Santa Anita's signature races, the $250,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap at about 1 3/4 miles on turf on April 22.

Lewis is considering the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano for Church Service, who won an allowance race at 1 1/2 miles on Saturday's Santa Anita Derby undercard.

"I think he wants" a distance, Lewis said.

The Lewis-trained Wickersham, claimed for $20,000 in February, was scratched from Sunday's Pro or Con Handicap. She may resurface in the B. Thoughtful Stakes at seven furlongs on April 29, a race that is part of the California Gold Rush program.

Potrero Grande top two take a break

With the goal of reaching the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Monmouth Park in October, Smokey Stover and Greg's Gold, the first two finishers in Saturday's $192,000 Potrero Grande BC Handicap, will not start again until July, their trainers said over the weekend.

Smokey Stover, who extended his winning streak to four with a sharp-looking win in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande, will be pointed for the Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder on July 7, trainer Greg Gilchrist said.

Before Saturday's Potrero Grande, Gilchrist mentioned that schedule as a way to keep Smokey Stover from being over-raced this year.

"He's down on weight right now," Gilchrist said. "We'll just back up and let him catch up with himself. We'll map something for the second half of the year. You want to have a fresh horse."

Smokey Stover's winning streak includes the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita in January and the Grade 3 Bay Meadows BC Handicap in March.

Greg's Gold, the winner of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar in 2005, made his second start of the year in the Potrero Grande, having won an allowance race in February. He missed the 2006 season because of a tendon injury.

Trainer David Hofmans was ruing his luck Saturday after Greg's Gold was stuck on the rail for the first half of the Potrero Grande. Greg's Gold did not get to the outside until the turn and could not catch Smokey Stover.

"He broke a step slow and that compromised him," Hofmans said. "He had to check and wait and wait, and by then, Smokey Stover was gone and we couldn't catch him. I think if we hadn't checked we could have come together in the stretch."

Greg's Gold will be pointed for the $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap at seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on July 7, Hofmans said.

La Puente looks wide open

The absence of top turf 3-year-old Whatsthescript from this Saturday's $100,000 La Puente Stakes leaves the race with numerous contenders.

The probable starters include Desert Code, Golden Balls, Shem, Star Inside, Streets Ahead, Vaunt, and Vauquelin. Desert Code, who won the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes last month, and Streets Ahead, a stakes winner in England last year, are the only stakes winners among the probable starters.

Whatsthescript is bound for the $150,000 Crown Royal American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 4, trainer Doug O'Neill said.

Owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, Whatsthescript has the Breeders' Cup Mile in October as a long-term goal, even though he is only 3, O'Neill said. Imported from Ireland last fall, Whatsthescript is unbeaten in three starts on turf in the United States.

"He's a super-gifted horse and we want to have a long campaign," O'Neill said. "As far as making him a stallion goes, it's center-stage there" in Kentucky.

* Jockey Corey Nakatani took off his sole mount at Santa Anita on Sunday, citing a bruised elbow and knee from a spill on Saturday. Nakatani was aboard Hendrix, who broke down on the turn of the Arcadia Handicap. Hendrix was euthanized. Nakatani is riding at Keeneland on Wednesday.